The Uttar Pradesh Police has so far arrested over 300 people from eight districts of the state, including Prayagraj and Saharanpur, in connection with Friday’s violence during protests against the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad by now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. In a statement issued here on Sunday evening, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said, “316 people have been arrested from eight districts of the state, and 13 FIRs have been registered in this regard in nine districts.”
Giving district-wise details, Kumar said, “92 people have been arrested in Prayagraj, 79 in Saharanpur, 51 in Hathras, 34 in Ambedkar Nagar, 35 in Moradabad, 15 in Firozabad, six in Aligarh, and four in Jalaun.” Of the 13 cases, three cases each were registered in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, and one each in Firozabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Moradabad, Hathras, Aligarh, Lakhimpur Kheri, and Jalaun, the senior officer said.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has often spoken of how under his rule the state has been rid of frequent riots, on Saturday issued a stern warning against anti-social activities. “Strictest action will be taken against the anti-social elements involved in the chaotic efforts to spoil the atmosphere in various cities in the past few days,” he said while issuing directives to officials.
“There is no place for such anti-social people in a civilised society. No innocent should be harassed, but not a single guilty should be spared,” he said. In a tweet in Hindi, Mrityunjay Kumar, the media advisor to the chief minister, on Saturday had said, “Unruly elements remember, every Friday is followed by a Saturday” and posted a photo of a bulldozer demolishing a building.
Under Adityanath, the state administration has been cracking down on criminals and riot accused, seizing or razing their properties. His critics have often accused him of adopting strong-arm tactics. On Friday, people pelted stones at police personnel in Prayagraj and Saharanpur during their protests after Friday prayers in mosques.
At least four other cities witnessed similar scenes during the marches that were carried out to protest the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad made by Nupur Sharma. In Prayagraj, the mob had set on fire a few motorcycles and carts and also attempted to set ablaze a police vehicle. Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse the protesters and restored peace. A policeman was injured, according to officials.
Sharma was suspended by the BJP as several Islamic nations denounced her comments on the Prophet during a TV debate. In Saharanpur, protesters shouted slogans against Sharma and demanded the death sentence for her. There were protests in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur, and Lucknow as well.