Kanpur District Magistrate transferred, local BJP leader arrested

Security personnel patrol to maintain law and order amid communal tension, in the wake of Friday’s violence, in Kanpur on June 5, 2022.

Security personnel patrol to maintain law and order amid communal tension, in the wake of Friday’s violence, in Kanpur on June 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

In what could be seen as a response to the Kanpur clashes on last Friday, the Uttar Pradesh Government on Tuesday transferred Kanpur District Magistrate (DM) Neha Sharma. She has been posted as Director, Local Bodies, in the Urban Development Department. Ms. Sharma will be replaced by Vishakh G., who is currently serving as Special Secretary to the U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Former district secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Yuva Morcha, Harshit Srivastava, has been arrested for posting inflammatory content on social media platforms, Additional Director General of Police-Law and Order, Prashant Kumar, said.

Twelve others have also been arrested in connection with the violence, taking the total number of those held to 51, a senior official said.

While the official response over the Kanpur DM’s transfer is that it’s part of a routine exercise in which 21 Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers were transferred, observers said laxity by district officials came to light in the incident because the clashes occurred on a day when there was VIP movement in the city. At least two dozen persons, including police officials, were injured in stone-pelting.

The main accused, Hayat Zafar Hashmi, has already been arrested, and Kanpur police put out posters of 40 suspects identified by video clips and CCTV footage.

A 16-year-old boy walked into the Colonelganj Police Station and surrendered after his picture appeared on posters put up by police, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP)-East, Pramod Kumar, said. Around 10 more suspects have been detained for questioning.

Both BJP and Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders had described the violence as an intelligence failure as a group had already given a call for a bandh and was courting arrest in protest against controversial remarks made by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.

Violence erupted in parts of Kanpur after Friday prayers as members of two communities indulged in brick-batting and hurled bombs over attempts to shut shops in protest against “insulting” comments on Prophet Mohammed by Ms. Sharma during a TV debate.

The Kotwali police on Tuesday lodged another FIR against people behind two Facebook accounts and three Twitter handles for spreading “fake and inflammatory content” about the June 3 violence, pushing the number of such users booked so far to 13, Mr. Pramod Kumar said. The FIR has been registered against the operators of the Twitter handles “Duggalsahab15”, “shivaisrael” and “AkhandBharat”, and two Facebook account holders, Abu Zaid and Kaushal Patel, the DCP said.

The district administration has sealed a petrol pump situated near the Deputy Padav crossing after CCTV footage showed people taking fuel in bottles from the filling station ahead of Friday’s clashes, another senior official said. Since the sale of petrol in bottles is prohibited, the petrol pump’s licence has been suspended till further inquiry, he added.

During investigation, it emerged that the rioters had come from various districts and far away localities.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the incident has shifted its focus to those who could be key conspirators and could be behind the funding for the riots, the official added. The police are also probing the role of Zara Hayat, wife of Mr. Hashmi, whose arrest was made from Lucknow’s Hazratganj on Saturday. Evidence collected by the SIT led to doubts over Ms. Hayat, who was the administrator of several WhatsApp groups, the official pointed out.

( With inputs from PTI.)

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Printable version | Jun 8, 2022 2:39:59 am |