India: 15 killed, mainly Muslims in anti-citizenship law protests

22nd Dec 2019
India: 15 killed, mainly Muslims in anti-citizenship law protests

By Shuriah Niazi

 

NEW DELHI (AA): Fifteen people were killed, mainly Muslims, many of them from bullet injuries, in India as peaceful protests reverberate across the country against a controversial citizenship law, security officials said Saturday.

Inspector General of Police Praveen Kumar confirmed the death toll to Anadolu Agency saying fresh cases were reported from the northern Uttar Pradesh state.

“Police have arrested 705 people, who were involved in violence. Apart from that 263 policemen were injured, out of whom 57 received gunshot wounds,” said Kumar.

Thirteen people died in protests held across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh Friday. The list includes Saharanpur, Deoband, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Sambhal, Aligarh, Bahraich, Ferozabad, Kanpur, Bhadohi and Gorakhpur. Parts of the state are under prohibitory orders and internet has been unplugged.

The protests turned violent at some places with vehicles being torched, police alleged.

A police post was set on fire by protesters in Kanpur city, news agency PTI reported.

Internet services will remain suspended in Lucknow, the state capital, until Monday, said an official.

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh, however, claimed that none of the deaths occurred due to police actions.

However, a day after protesters clashed with the police in Uttar Pradesh over the contentious citizenship law, a video has emerged in which a policeman in Kanpur can be seen opening fire with his revolver. The video comes even as Uttar Pradesh Police maintains that that none of the people who died in the state after the protests were killed in police firing.

Kanpur was among the Uttar Pradesh towns where fresh violence broke out on Saturday. Protesters had set fire to a police post.

In the video, the policeman, wearing a safety jacket and a helmet, can be seen walking at the site of the clashes with a revolver and baton. He can be seen walking to a corner and opening fire.

Denying that anyone died in police firing since the protests broke out on Thursday, UP police chief OP Singh had told NDTV on Saturday, “We did not shoot even a single bullet.”

Another officer has alleged that only there protesters are using firearms in the ongoing violence. The Uttar Pradesh police have also said that 57 policemen have been injured by firearms. Overall, 263 policemen have sustained injuries in the violence in the state since Thursday.

On Friday, a large peaceful rally was held at Jamia Masjid, a main mosque of the city, from where protesters marched to the Jantar Mantar square.

“We are here to fight against an unjust law that could divide the country on the basis of religion. Every citizen should stand against this discriminatory law,” said Aftab Shakil, a protester.

“We have to stand against this. The government has decided to raise those issues which concern Muslims of India. They have been systematically targeting one particular community,” Raqib Ahmed, another protester told Anadolu Agency.

The Citizenship Amendment Act passed last week grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but blocks naturalization for Muslims.

Muslim leaders believe the new law will be linked to a nationwide exercise where every citizen would be asked to prove Indian citizenship.

Meanwhile, an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiromani Akali Dal asked the government on Saturday to include Muslims in the new citizenship law in a bid to quell peaceful protests.

Additional report from NDTV

[Photo: Protest against controversial citizenship amendement bill continue across the country. Thousands of people gathered at Jamia Millia Islamia to protest against the police brutality on the students who were protesting against the citizenship amendment act in Delhi, India on Decemeber 18, 2019. Photographer:  Muhabiri Javed Sultan/AA]

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