Anti-CAA stir: At least 6 dead as violence rocks UP; thousands rally in national capital

NEW DELHI, Dec 20: At least six persons died as violent clashes rocked Uttar Pradesh on Friday while thousands rallied in the national capital and several other cities, carrying the tricolour and ‘Save constitution’ banners, as part of the raging protests across states against the amended citizenship law and the proposed NRC, prompting the government to indicate it was ready to accept suggestions.
Sporadic violence was reported from other parts of Delhi, Maharashtra and the Karnataka-Kerala border areas as well, while authorities resorted to curbs on mobile internet and SMS services in various regions, including in parts of UP, Karnataka and the national capital.
Heavy security was deployed at all sensitive areas, including those where large-scale protests took place on Thursday that saw at least three deaths, including of two persons in police firing, in Mangaluru. One person died in Lucknow.
Taking the nationwide toll to at least nine in two days, six persons were killed during protests at various places in UP, where police retaliated with teargas shells and rubber bullets after protests turned violent.
Director General of Police OP Singh told PTI that two people lost their lives in Bijnor, and one each in Meerut, Sambhal and Firozabad. But officials reported a death in Kanpur as well. He said over 50 policemen were seriously injured.
The raging protests also saw some allies of the ruling BJP voicing their concern. Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar asserted that the NRC will not be implemented in his state, while the president of another BJP ally, the Lok Janshakti Party, Chirag Paswan, said the protests showed that the central government “failed” to dispel confusion among a significant section of society.
Holding a protest march in Maharashtra, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen alleged that the Narendra Modi government wants to ensure that only Hindus remain in India with its twin move of the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said the Modi government “has shown utter disregard for people’s voices and used brute force to suppress dissent.” She said the CAA was discriminatory and the proposed NRC would particularly hurt the poor and the vulnerable.
The national capital remained heavily barricaded but prohibitory orders and closure of several metro stations could not stop thousands from rallying near Jama Masjid area, soon after Friday afternoon prayers.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also joined the protesters at India Gate.
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad led one of the largest protests, despite being denied permission to hold a march.
In Gujarat, a mob pelted stones at Hathikhana area of Vadodara city, objecting to videotaping of a namaz congregation, which the officials said was being done as a preventive measure in the wake of anti-CAA protests.
In Maharashtra, 10,000 took part in a protest march in Pune.
In Kerala, police kept high vigil in the northern districts in the wake of the killing of two persons in Mangaluru in neighbouring Karnataka. A series of protest marches and blocking of trains and buses took place in various parts of Kerala past midnight after the news emerged about the deaths.
Anti-CAA protesters also blocked Karnataka state transport buses in Kozhikode and raised slogans against the Mangaluru police action. The Kerala Road Transport Corporation has suspended bus services to Mangaluru.
Meanwhile, mobile internet services resumed in Assam on court orders, 10 days after they had been banned during protests against the new law. (PTI)