Prophet comment row: UP Police arrested 316 people for violence after Friday prayers

The Uttar Pradesh Police has so far arrested over 300 people from eight districts of the state, including Prayagraj and Saharanpur, in connection with Friday’s violence during protests against controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad by suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. In a statement issued here on Sunday evening, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said, “316 people have been arrested from eight districts of the state, and 13 FIRs have been registered in this regard in nine districts.”

Giving district-wise information, Kumar said, “92 people have been arrested in Prayagraj, 79 in Saharanpur, 51 in Hathras, 34 in Ambedkar Nagar, 35 in Moradabad, 15 in Firozabad, six in Aligarh and four in Jalaun.” Of the 13 cases, three each were reported in Prayagraj and Saharanpur and one each in Firozabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Moradabad, Hathras, Aligarh. Lakhimpur Kheri, and Jalaun, the senior officer said.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has often spoken about how the state has been rid of relentless riots under his rule, on Saturday issued a stern warning against anti-social activities. Issuing instructions to the officials, he said, “Strict action will be taken against the anti-social elements involved in the chaotic attempts to vitiate the atmosphere in various cities in the last few days.”

“There is no place for such anti-social people in a civilized society. No innocent should be harassed, but not a single guilty should be spared,” he said. In a tweet in Hindi, Mrutyunjay Kumar, the chief minister’s media advisor, had said on Saturday, “Remembering the chaotic elements, every Friday is followed by Saturday” and posted a picture of a bulldozer demolishing a building.

Under Adityanath, the state administration is cracking down on criminals and riot accused, confiscating or destroying their properties. His critics have often accused him of adopting strong-arm tactics. People pelted stones at policemen in Prayagraj and Saharanpur during protests after Friday prayers in mosques.

Similar scenes were witnessed in at least four other cities during the march to protest the controversial remarks made by Nupur Sharma on Prophet Mohammad. In Prayagraj, a mob had torched some motorcycles and vehicles and also tried to set a police vehicle on fire. Police used tear gas and sticks to disperse the protesters and restore peace. One policeman was injured, according to officials.

Sharma was suspended by the BJP after several Islamic countries condemned his remarks on the Prophet during a TV debate. Protesters in Saharanpur raised slogans against Sharma and demanded death penalty. Protests were also held in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow.

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