As protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) intensify, nine districts of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, December 26, were put under another spell of internet shutdown for the next 24 hours.
The districts where internet services have been blacked out are Bijnor, Bulandshahr, Muzaffarnagar, Agra, Firozabad, Sambhal, Aligarh, Kanpur and Ghaziabad.
The internet shutdown is a preventive measure in view of Friday prayers and possible protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Internet connectivity has already been suspended in nine districts and more districts may be included in the list from Friday morning, sources said.
Additional Director General, Law and Order, P.V. Ramasastry said: "We have deployed security personnel in different districts of the state and held talks with the local people. Internet services have been suspended in some districts for a day, and we are closely monitoring content on social media."
Violence broke out in many parts of the state between December 19 and 21, claiming as many as 21 lives.
Although many of the bodies bore gunshot wounds, the state police insisted that they did not shoot anything other than plastic pellets and rubber bullets. They have owned up to opening fire only at Bijnore, where a 20-year-old civil services aspirant was killed.
In an attempt to justify its action, the state police have released a series of photographs and videos showing two men firing at cops during protests against the controversial law.
Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma claimed that the police had also suffered heavy losses and 288 policemen were injured in violence that erupted across 21 districts.
Jamia student protests outside UP Bhawan
Meanwhile, the Jamia Millia Islamia students have decided to gherao the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan in New Delhi to agitate against the Yogi Adityanath government over the deaths during the anti-CAA protests.
According to Jamia Coordination Committee, the convener of CAA protest, the Uttar Pradesh government is "firing bullets" on the protesters agitating against the new citizenship law. Students have planned to register their protest against the state government.
The Committee also demanded Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's resignation.
The members of the committee said that the administration has shut 67 shops in Muzaffarnagar. Besides, thousands of people opposing CAA have been arrested across the state.
In view of the demonstration, police have made tight security arrangements at the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan.
The committee has appealed for a peaceful protest.
Since the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act by both houses of Parliament, Jamia students have been opposing the law. On December 15, residents of Jamia Nagar allegedly pelted stones at the police.
Students have accused the police of thrashing them inside the campus and vandalizing the university's library. Following the incident, Jamia students have been protesting outside the university against the CAA.
Notices to agitators
To recover the damages incurred to public property during anti-CAA protests, a notice has been sent to attach the properties of 46 people including a former IPS officer accused of indulging in violence during the demonstrations.
Police have identified the people on the basis of CCTV footage, after which notice was sent to them. They include Mohammad Shoaib of Rihai Manch, Congress leader Sadaf Zafar and former IG SR Darapuri among others.
This notice has been issued by the district administration on the list of 46 rioters prepared by Hazratganj Police.
According to an estimate, property worth over Rs 3 crore was damaged during the violent demonstrations in several districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Miscreants are said to have damaged around 35 vehicles in the four police station areas of the capital -- Hazratganj, Kaiserbagh, Thakurganj and Hasanganj -- on December 19.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had given instructions to compensate for the loss caused due to violence by the rioters.
After this, the district administration identified the rioters, sent them notices and asked them to reply within a week.
If they cannot prove themselves innocent then they will have to pay a fixed amount as compensation to the government. Non-payment of the prescribed amount will attract legal action, including jail.
Lucknow District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash said "We have started this action following the guidelines of the Supreme Court."
He said that the loss is estimated in crores. After assessing the damage, the amount of penalty will be fixed for those who indulged in violence.
The notices were issued even after videos of police vandalising public and private property in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar surfaced online. Several instances of police brutality while dealing with peaceful protestors have been caught on camera.
An 11-year-old in Varanasi died in a stampede caused by police lathi charge during the protests. A video suggests that the police action was on a large but peaceful group of demonstrators.
Several reports of police barging in houses in Lucknow and Bijnor have come out, where women spoke of policemen beating them up and vandalising property, even when the men they had come looking for were away.
Around 5,400 people have been taken under custody till now and around 705 have been sent to jail. The government is also expected to invoke the National Security Act (NSA) against 250 demonstrators.
(With agency inputs.)