17 Dead, 705 Reportedly Arrested Amid Anti-Citizenship Act Violence Spree in India's Uttar Pradesh

© REUTERS / DANISH SIDDIQUIA riot police officer throws a piece of brick towards demonstrators during a protest against a new citizenship law in Seelampur, area of Delhi, India, 17 December 2019
A riot police officer throws a piece of brick towards demonstrators during a protest against a new citizenship law in Seelampur, area of Delhi, India, 17 December 2019 - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): The wave of protests against India's new citizenship law continues to send ripples, with country-wide agitations entering their twelfth day. Despite measures put in place to curb the protests, the violence has erupted in several parts of the country over the past week.

In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where Muslims account for 19.3% of the total population and constitute its largest religious minority, protest violence has resulted in 17 deaths, as residents voice their anger,  due to the country's amended citizenship law.

There are reports of 705 people being arrested and 263 police personnel sustaining injuries while 10,900 first information reports (FIR) have been registered. As many as 405 weapons have reportedly been seized.  

​Rampur district, Kanpur city, and Muzaffarnagar city remained the main centres of violence in the state.  One died at Rampur and 15 police personnel sustained injuries while protesters torched police vehicles in Kanpur and two police personnel were shot at.

Among others, Sambhal city, Amroha city, Muzzafarnagar city and Firozabad city also witnessed violence. In Meerut city, reports of police officers being set on fire have also surfaced.

Police have repeatedly been forced to use tear gas and pellet guns to disperse protesters. With the damage to public property during the stone pelting, police have started identifying the miscreants using CCTV footage and are sending notices for the damage claim now.

Meanwhile the district magistrate of Lucknow city said “as per guidelines of Courts, for situation in which demonstrations turn violent, those who caused damage are deemed liable. Areas have been demarcated under additional district magistrates. After giving a 7-day notice, value of properties will be assessed for compensation.”

The authorities have shut down internet services in 21 districts of the state until Monday while the internet in Aligarh has been restored.

However, police have initiated action against more than 13,000 social media posts, 63 first reports have been registered regarding the matter and 102 arrests have been made.

​Amid reports of mass detention, the arrest of Uttar Pradesh Congress media spokesperson and former teacher Sadaf Jafar has attracted attention as she was allegedly arrested and then beaten by the police.

Speaking to the Indian news website The Quint, Sadaf’s niece Ramsha (name changed) said, "She has been shifted to Lucknow jail now. She was subjected to severe police brutality."

Ramsha* added that a group of lawyers called the Rihai Manch have been helping her pursue the case. "We'll be filing a bail plea at the earliest, thankfully, a lot of people are helping us. It’s like the whole city is at it," she said.

Uttar Pradesh director general of police has said: “We have come to know that some political leaders of Trinamool Congress want to visit here (Lucknow). We will not permit them for the same as section 144 is imposed in the area and it can make the atmosphere more tense.”

The Citizenship Amendment Act grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and arrived before 31 December 2014. It, however, barred Muslims from the same countries of origin from being granted citizenship, amid new measures to register all citizens.

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