The Yogi Adityanath-government imposed Section 144 throughout the state as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act started gaining momentum throughout the state. Several parts of the state have also been off the internet for quite a few days now.
So it has been quite difficult to report and understand the situation on the ground in Uttar Pradesh. But it has become abundantly clear that there have been multiple incidents of violence in the state. leading to the deaths of at least 17 people.
Meanwhile, according to Scroll, on the 21st of December, 131 people had been arrested in Bijnor alone, from Western UP.
In the FIR related to violence in Nehtaur, where two people were killed on Friday, 25 people had been named as the accused along with 100 others, whose identities are yet unknown to the cops.
However, Congress leader Salman Sayeed told reporters that only Muslim areas in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar had been placed under curfew and rest of the city is mostly normal.
My cars are destroyed... The police are entering houses, arresting boys and destroying everything in the house, looting all jewellery and cash.
Hindustan Times had also published a report about a viral video showing a policeman opening fire, just a day after 8 people had been killed during the violence.
The police department, however, has denied any such allegations.
However, according to another report, 14 of the 17 people killed during clashes between police and anti-CAA protestors in UP since the 19th of December had succumbed to 'firearm injuries'.
UP's inspector general (law and order) Praveen Kumar alleged outsiders' involvement in the protest and said:
More than 400 empty cartridges have been recovered across Uttar Pradesh. It proves that protesters were firing with country-made weapons and that those who died in their fire were either innocent bystanders or part of the mob themselves.
However, two senior police officials told Hindustan Times that the firing by the policeman was a 'one-off' incident and insisted that cops had been using rubber bullets instead of regular ammunition.
On Sunday, police told reporters that a 28-year-old HIV patient died from firearm injuries he had sustained from the protests in Kanpur.
Thirteen others who died because of firing were identified as – Mohammed Wakeel (32) from Lucknow, Aftab Alam and Mohammad Saif from Kanpur, Anas, (21), and Mohammed Suleiman (35) from Bijnor, Bilal (24), and Mohammad Shehroz (23) in Sambhal, Jaheer (33), Mohsin (28), Asif (20) and Areef (20) in Meerut; Nabi Jahan (24) in Firozabad and, Faiz Khan (24) in Rampur.
Among the three other deaths, there was an eight-year-old boy who died due to injuries during a stampede in Varanasi.
Meanwhile, on Friday, India Today reported clashes between the cops and protesters from Bhadohi, Bahraich, Amroha, Farurukhabad, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Hapur, Hathras, Bulandshahr, Hamirpur and Mahoba districts.
People in Bijnor's Nehtaur town however, have alleged police brutality without any prior provocation.
One of the residents, Ahmed spoke to Scroll and said that about 100 residents of the Muslim-majority region had gone into the streets of Naiza Sarai to offer Friday prayers as usual at the local mosque.
But as he stepped out after the prayers, a police officer spotted him and asked him to make the public announcement. So he did.
Please go home peacefully. Do not throw stones.
He told reporters that no formal protest against the CAA had been organised by anyone in the town. But men, dressed in civilian clothes, with batons in their hands, threw tear gas and lathi charge, despite no stones being pelted, he claimed.
Others also backed his claim that the police had launched an unwarranted attack on the people. Mohd Zaid, whose father Rashid Ahmed was the chairman of Nehtaur for 17 years said:
Not a single protest meeting was held in this town. Imagine, had we protested, what would have been the outcome.
Scroll had claimed to have seen the video footage recorded by a resident showing cops firing from rifles, as one of them shout :
Kill one or two of them.
However, once the lathi charge began, the youth started retaliating only to realise that bullets were being fired at them, eye-witnesses said.
They also claimed that once the firing had stopped, the cops started breaking into their homes and beating people up.
A woman and her mother have also alleged that the cops broke into their house, destroyed a lot of property and stole Rs 50,000 that they had saved and then beat them up.
These are two of the countless accounts of police violence in the state. Many have also shared videos of cops beating up random people and destroying vehicles on Twitter. However, ScoopWhoop could not independently verify the authenticity of such videos.
Meanwhile, heavy police and CPMF have been deployed in sensitive districts including Lucknow, Meerut, Aligarh, Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar.