LUCKNOW: After a day-long violent protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) leaving a person dead and 35, including 16 cops, injured in the state capital on Thursday, internet and text messaging services have been suspended across 14 districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow till Saturday afternoon.
Notably, the state government issued the advisory to this effect late on Thursday night in the wake of protests and Friday prayers in mosques across the state. However, district administrations had imposed a ban on procession post-Friday namaz.
As many as 3,505 people were taken in preventive custody, according to authorities.
Out of these, 200 were under preventive custody in Lucknow. Meanwhile, the body of Mohammad Wakil, 25, who succumbed to his injuries, allegedly sustained during protests, at Lucknow Trauma Centre on Thursday night was sent for autopsy.
A panel of doctors was set up by the King Georges’ Medical university authorities to carry out the autopsy.
Wakil died of gun-shot injuries in Lucknow’s Hussainabad locality, near Satkhanda police outpost, where violence broke out earlier on Thursday.
The additional chief secretary of the state’s home department, Awanish Kumar Awasthi, asked all telecom operators and internet service providers for the temporary suspension of SMS and mobile internet services till 12 pm on Saturday.
“The step is being taken to prevent the “possible misuse” of SMS, WhatsApp, YouTube and Facebook to “disturb peace and tranquillity of the city and create further law and order situation, and in order that normalcy may return,” Awasthi said in a notification issued on Thursday.
Apart from Lucknow, the other districts where internet services have been suspended are Saharanpur, Meerut, Shamli, Muzzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Mau, Sambhal, Azamgarh, Agra, Kanpur , Unnao and Moradabad.
Parivartan Chowk, in central Lucknow, and Madeyganj and Satkhanda localities of the old city area resembled war zones for some time amid brick-batting, vandalism, arson and firing in the air.
Police resorted to baton charge, fired tear gas shells and used water cannons to control the situation and chase away the violent mob. However, UP DGP OP Singh vehemently denied that the cops opened fire at the protestors.
On Friday, the Lucknow administration got all the main markets across the city closed as a precautionary measure. The tourists were being sent back from the airport and railway station.
The state’s director general of police (DGP) OP Singh said police were taking extra precaution for Friday and additional manpower has been deployed at sensitive places, where violence was reported on Thursday.
An extra police force has been deployed in Lucknow’s old city to avert further trouble, officials said. The police carried out a flag march in violence-hit areas on Friday morning as the administration refrained people from moving out on road in groups.
Even the DGP participated in the flag march himself.
Heavy deployment of a police force was also seen near religious places due to Friday prayers.
Lucknow’s district magistrate Abhishek Prakash and divisional commissioner Mukesh Meshram visited the old city areas on Friday morning to see the preparations of forces for maintaining peace.
More than 200 people were detained for questioning during a midnight crackdown in search of those involved in arson and vandalism in Lucknow.
Violence was also reported in two other districts of Sambhal and Amroha in west UP where protesters indulged in stone-pelting when they were stopped from taking out a protest march.
In Sambhal, Samahjwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rehman and SP district chief Feroz Khan’s name figured among those booked for mindless violence, vandalism and arson.