Fresh protests are being reported from parts of Uttar Pradesh Howrah, West Bengal; leading administrations to take extreme measures to curb disorder.
o UP police arrested 237 protesters across 7 districts, including political activist Javed Mohammed, instead of violent Friday protests after prayer. The state government demolishes houses belonging to protesters.
o Bengal government suspends the internet, imposes curfew, and arrests 60 protesters in Howrah, after ensuing roadblocks and violence to avoid the escalation of tensions over the inflammatory comments made by expelled BJP leaders Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.
Protests in Uttar Pradesh
The Uttar Pradesh government proceeded with its crackdown against protestors on Saturday, arresting 237 persons, including political activist Javed Mohammad in Prayagraj, where protestors had engaged in stone-pelting on police after Friday prayers in Atala.
Senior Superintendent of Police Prayagraj, Ajay Kumar, claimed that the police found through Mr. Javed’s WhatsApp chat that he had given a call for a shutdown and had asked people to gather at Atala, blaming him for essentially organizing the protest. Mr. Javed is a member of the Welfare Party of India.
Subsequently, U.P. police lodged 13 FIRs in 9 districts in connection with the protests following Friday prayers. 3 were registered in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, with the highest number of arrests at 68 and 55, respectively, followed by Hathras (50), Ambedkar Nagar (28), Moradabad (25), and Firozabad (8). SSP Kumar said that police did not find any particular group or party responsible for the discord.
In Saharanpur, U.P police unleashed bulldozers upon properties of protesters. In videos shared by the police themselves, the police along with a team of the local civic body demolished parts of the accused, Muzammil and Abdul Waqir’s houses, which they claim were illegally constructed.
Meanwhile, in Kanpur, police demolished a property belonging to Mohammad Ishtiyaq, who the police claim was linked to the violent protests in Kanpur on June 3. The property in question was located in Swaroopnagar, three kilometers away from the spot where violence broke out in Kanpur.
Additional Director General of Law and Order, Prashant Kumar, said that the damage caused to public and private property during the clashes would be compensated for by seizing their properties under the Gangsters Act, said the officer.
Protests in West Bengal
Protests in West Bengal’s Howrah turned violent after agitators reportedly torched police vehicles and booths. Hundreds of protestors crowded roads in parts of the Howrah district. When the cops tried to intervene and disperse the blockade on National Highway-6, it led to clashes between the two in Dhulagarh, Panchla and Uluberia areas. West Bengal police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd at Dhulagarh and Panchla, causing the demonstrators to pelt stones in response.
Following the clashes, at least 60 people were arrested in Howrah and parts of Murshidabad district and South 24 Parganas. Internet service was suspended in Howrah from Friday and was extended to parts of Murshidabad on Saturday.
Internet is to stay suspended in Howrah till 13 June and in Murshidabad till 14 June. Moreover, curfew orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure have been imposed in several areas such as Uluberia, Domjur, and Panchla till 15 June.
During an emergency meeting held in the state secretariat in Howrah district, the West Bengal government conducted a police reshuffle, appointing Praveen Tripathi, Additional Commissioner of Kolkata Police, as the new Commissioner of Police of Howrah.
Police chiefs were switched out to bring in officers with tougher reputations in problem areas and the Pirzada cleric of Futura Sharif was served a notice Saturday by the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) for having minors participate in violent demonstrations.
BJP’s West Bengal unit president Sukanta Majumdar was arrested on Saturday afternoon near the toll plaza on Vidyasagar Setu when he was on the way to Howrah district. “His visit could have created a law-and-order situation. This is a preventive arrest,” the senior police said. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee spoke on the protests, vowing to take strict action against those attempting to instigate riots in the state.