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Protests turn violent in many Indian cities, 2 dead

Flames, smoke rise from a vehicle on fire that was allegedly set ablaze by miscreants during a protest in Howrah on Friday. | Photo: ANI

Remarks on Prophet Muhammad by suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled Delhi unit media head Naveen Kumar Jindal has kicked up a row that has intensified in the past 24 hours. After international backlash where several Gulf nations registered protests, agitation spread to several Indian cities. Two people died as protests turned violent in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, where internet was suspended and curfew has been imposed. Demonstrations were reported from at least 90 places across 14 states.

Several incidents of stone pelting have been reported with many police personnel also suffering injuries. In Uttar Pradesh, 136 people have been arrested in connect with the unrest on Friday. Protests were seen in at least six cities in UP with police confronting stone pelting in Prayagraj and Saharanpur. Arson involving two-wheelers and carts was reported from Prayagraj where police had to resort to tear gas and lathi charge to contain the unrest. 45 protesters were arrested from Saharanpur, 37 from Prayagraj, 23 from Ambedkar Nagar, 20 from Hathras, 7 from Moradabad and 4 from Firozabad district. Protests and sloganeering were also reported in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow. In Kanpur which saw unrest last week, no incidents were reported and peace was maintained.

In West Bengal, protests took place in Howrah district where agitators blocked the National Highway (NH6) in the Salap and Uluberia areas for hours. Protesters clashed with security forces in some places. A local police station in Domjur came under attack and two police vehicles were burned while 12 personnel suffered injuries in the violence. Railway tracks were also blocked in some areas leading to cancellation of some trains. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee had on Thursday urged the people of the state to not block rail or road network during their agitation.

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In Jharkhand’s Ranchi, casualties were confirmed on Saturday morning as two people succumbed to injuries received during yesterday’s unrest. Incidents of stone pelting, arson of vehicles and vandalization was reported from the state capital where several persons were injured. A curfew was imposed in violence-hit areas of Ranchi.

Protests have also taken place in Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan. FIR was registered by Delhi Police against 31 people for allegedly spreading communal discord. These include All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi and Dasna Devi Temple priest Yati Narsinghanand.

(With inputs from agencies)

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