LUCKNOW: The Uttar Pradesh police, on Saturday, claimed to have arrested the alleged masterminds behind the violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which had rocked the state capital Lucknow last Thursday.
The police authorities picked up Waseem Ahmad, a native of Lucknow, and his two accomplices Nadim, 28, of Barabanki, and Ashfaq, 35, also of Lucknow, for having a prominent role in launching the violent protests held in the state capital on December 19. All the three are activists of the Popular Front of India (PFI), an organisation associated with the banned outfit Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), believed to have hatched the conspiracy to give a violent turn to the otherwise peaceful protests in the state capital.
The police also arrested two members – Robin Singh and Mohammad Shoaib -- of the Rehaee Manch, a non-governmental organisation, which was among those who had given the December 19 protest call, for creating unrest.
Police sources claimed that the PFI played the main role in planning the violent protests in Lucknow last Thursday.
Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma, on Sunday, had alleged that outsiders had a role in the incidents of violence reported from various districts of the state where protests took place against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Hinting at the involvement of PFI in fomenting violence, Sharma had pointed out that six persons from West Bengal's Malda district, associated with the PFI, were arrested by the state police.
“While Waseem is district chief of PFI, Ashfaq is the treasurer. These masterminds had a full-fledged network of activists who fanned out not only across Lucknow but also other parts of the state in advance to prepare the ground for the violent protests against the CAA,” said Lucknow SSP Kalanidhi Naithani.
Waseem and his aides – Nadeem and Ashfaq -- were ready in Lucknow with a network of activists who had stored stones and firearms, in advance, to be used on the protest day, said a senior police official.
The Lucknow SSP also claimed to have recovered CDs, posters, pamphlets, flags, jihadi literature and material about the Babri Masjid from the arrested masterminds. “This clearly indicates that they had played an important role in fomenting violence during the anti-CAA protests in Lucknow on December 19. They even spread the canard on social media sites to foment trouble,” said the SSP.
During the protests in Lucknow, one person had died and over 35, including 16 cops, were left injured. Over a dozen vehicles, including five OB vans of media channels, and two police outposts were set ablaze. Moreover, protesters also indulged in heavy stone-pelting and vandalism destroying public property.
Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed across UP with internet services being restored in a few western UP districts, including Aligarh, Meerut and Saharanpur, and Mau and Sitapur in the eastern and central regions of the state. However, the services remained suspended in most of the 21 districts where internet had been suspended in the wake of the anti-CAA protests.
In Muzaffarnagar, where 48 persons were arrested for violent protests against the CAA, the role of a dozen outsiders has come to the fore. Of those 12, one each had hailed from Bhopal, Kargil and Leh. The rest had come from Saharanpur, Meerut, Shamli, Mau and Sultanpur to participate in the protests. A majority of the outsiders had been madrasa students staying at Shadat hostel in the town.
31 people have been arrested and over 150 others identified for their alleged role in the violence that broke out last Saturday amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), claiming two lives in Rampur, police said on Monday. Several locals and policemen were injured, and six vehicles, including a police motorcycle, were torched on Saturday in the city during the violent protests.
Meanwhile, police said 14 of the 16 persons killed during protests in UP succumbed to “firearm injuries”. Of the remaining two, Rashid, 35, of Ferozabad died of head injuries and Mohammad Sageer, 8, died after getting trampled by protesters in Varanasi last Thursday.
As per IG (Law and Order) Praveen Kumar, autopsy reports in most of the cases suggested that the victims died in firing. He said that detailed reports were sought from the respective districts.