As many as 18 people have died and hundreds have been injured in the violence that erupted in Uttar Pradesh during protests against the amended Citizenship Act, with over 800 people being arrested in connection with the incidents that took place since Friday.
Across the state, 879 people have been arrested in connection with the violence while around 5000 have been detained, as per official figures.
"Till now, 879 people have been arrested under substantive offences while 5000 persons who may instigate violence or vitiate atmosphere are bound down on the basis of suspicion," said UP Director General of Police (DGP), OP Singh on Sunday, adding that 135 criminal cases have been registered against 'miscreants'.
Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday said they have arrested Wasim, state head of Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and his two aides Ashfaq and Nadeem for allegedly masterminding violence in the state capital during the protests last week. They have recovered placards, flags, pamphlets and papers, literature, newspaper cuttings and banners and posters of NRC and CAA protest from the accused.
"Nadeem and Ashfaq incited people for the protest through WhatsApp and other platforms by sharing literature and video," SSP, Lucknow, Kalanidhi Naithani said.
At a hurriedly convened press conference, after death toll rose to 18, UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma alleged "outsiders' role" in the incidents of violence and that the protesters had used illegal firearms. He said authorities were suspecting the PFI and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) of playing key roles in the violence.
The Uttar Pradesh police have also maintained that it did not open fire at protesters anywhere on Friday or Saturday, and firing came from agitators. “All the deaths that took place have been in crossfire, and this will become clear in the post-mortem examination,” DGP O.P. Singh told reporters.
Soon after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath declared that the government would recover losses incurred in the protests by seizing the properties of those involved in the vandalism, the process to identify vandals and assessing losses has started in the state. The government is reportedly identifying the accused protesters from video footages and photographs of the agitations.
Deaths Amid Protest
State capital Lucknow has emerged as a hotbed for the protests where at least 33 FIRs have been filed in the state capital and 150 people arrested amid internet shutdown.
A man died of bullet injury in Lucknow on Friday, but the police maintained it did not open fire and gunshots were fired by agitators.
Activists Robin Verma and Mohammad Shoaib of the Rihai Manch, among others, have been arrested from the city for their involvement in "inciting the mob".
Most number of deaths have been reported from Meerut where five people have lost their lives. It was followed by Kanpur where the death toll rose to three as a 30-year-old man succumbed to his injuries on Sunday in hospital.
Two persons died in Bijnor; their families were visited by Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who demnded an inquiry into the incidents.
In Rampur, a 22-year-old man died after sustaining gunshot injury during protests. The man's family alleged that he was shot by the police and remained unattended at the district hospital for two hours. However, the district administration has declined firing bullets, saying a rioter had fired gunshot.
Sambhal and Firozabad saw one death each while an eight-year-old lost his life in a stampede as police chased protesters in Varanasi.
In Muzaffarnagar, a special investigation cell of 18 police personnel has started investigating 24 cases registered in connection with the violence on December 20. Cases have been registered against 262 people of whom 48 have been arrested, the police said.
Meanwhile. the Samajwadi Party, which has been opposing the CAA, has asked the state government why a local intelligence unit (LIU) official was present during its national president Akhilesh Yadav's press conference at the party office in Lucknow.
Asking for an explanation from the Yogi Adityanath-led government, senior party leader and former minister Pawan Pandey said, "It's a very serious matter that an LIU official sits in the press conference of our national president. It shows that the government was afraid of the SP and its leadership."
On the other hand, some students were detained outside the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan in Delhi on Monday when they were protesting against the police's action during anti-CAA demonstrations in the state. They were demanding the resignation of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the issue.
Internet services have been suspended in several areas in Uttar Pradesh till Monday, while prohibitory orders remained in force across Uttar Pradesh amid heavy police presence.
As many as 288 police personnel have also sustained injuries, of which 62 were due to firearms, during the violent protests, officials said.
(With inputs from agencies)