The Uttar Pradesh Police has arrested 237 people from various districts in the state in connection with Friday’s violence during protests against the controversial remarks of now-sacked BJP functionaries on Prophet Mohammad, with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath warning of “strictest” action against those attempting to vitiate the atmosphere.
In Saharanpur and Prayagraj, police officials said action will be taken against those arrested under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).
Among those arrested, 68 were held in Prayagraj and 50 in Hathras, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said in a statement on Saturday.
He said 55 people were arrested in Saharanpur, 28 in Ambedkarnagar, 25 in Moradabad, eight in Firozabad, and three in Aligarh.
As of 5 pm on Saturday, the DGP said, a total of 13 FIRs have been lodged in connection with Friday’s protests — three each in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, and one each in Firozabad, Aligarh, Hathras, Moradabad, Ambedkarnagar, Kheri and Jalaun.
Chief Minister Adityanath, who has often spoken of how under his rule the state has been rid of frequent riots, issued a stern warning.
“Strictest action will be taken against the anti-social elements involved in the chaotic efforts to spoil the atmosphere in various cities in the past few days,” he said while issuing directives to officials.
“There is no place for such anti-social people in a civilised society. No innocent should be harassed, but not a single guilty should be spared,” he said.
In a tweet in Hindi, Mrityunjay Kumar, the media advisor to the chief minister, said, “Unruly elements remember, every Friday is followed by a Saturday” and posted a photo of a bulldozer demolishing a building.
Under Adityanath, the state administration has been cracking down on criminals and riot accused, seizing or razing their properties. His critics have often accused him of adopting strong-arm tactics.
Saharanpur’s Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Tomar said, “Arrests have been made in connection with Friday’s violence. Action will be taken against the arrested people under the National Security Act.”
Strict action is being taken in Saharanpur against those who took out a procession without permission after Friday prayers.
Superintendent of Police, City (Saharanpur), Rajesh Kumar told PTI that two accused who created ruckus have been identified through CCTV footage as Muzammil, a resident of Rahat Colony, 62 Futa Road, and Abdul Vakir, a resident of Khata Khedi.
Municipal corporation teams have bulldozed their illegal properties, he said.
The SP said this crackdown will continue and the administration will also take action against such elements.
In Prayagraj, police have arrested 68 people including the mastermind of stone-pelting Javed Ahmad alias Pump, and he is being interrogated, Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Kumar said.
Police officials in the district also said that the NSA will be imposed against all those arrested.
The SSP also informed that cases have been registered against 70 named people and 5,000 others at Khuldabad and Kareli police stations.
He said that police are using CCTV footage to identify the accused.
Action will be taken against them under the NSA and the Gangsters Act, he said.
On Friday, people pelted stones at police personnel in Prayagraj and Saharanpur during their protests after Friday prayers in mosques.
At least four other cities witnessed similar scenes during the marches that were carried out to protest the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad made by now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.
In Prayagraj, the mob set on fire a few motorcycles and carts and also attempted to set ablaze a police vehicle. Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse the protesters and restored peace. A policeman was injured, according to police.
Sharma was suspended by the BJP as several Islamic nations denounced her comments on the Prophet during a TV debate.
In Saharanpur, protesters shouted slogans against Sharma and demanded the death sentence for her.
There were protests in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow as well.