A man died of an alleged firearm injury as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act turned violent in Lucknow on Thursday, leading to the arrest of at least 55 persons in the State capital. More than two dozen vehicles, including a State bus, TV media OB vans and police vehicles, were torched at different locations as parts of old Lucknow witnessed chaotic scenes.
At least 16 policemen were injured in the clashes and arson, the police said.
Mohammad Waqeel of Daulatganj, an auto driver, died of an “alleged firearm injury”, a spokesperson for the King George Medical University said.
Waqeel’s brother Taufeeq alleged that he was shot by a policeman, a charge denied by DGP O.P. Singh.
“It was an inspector who fired the bullet near the Hussainabad police outpost. There was firing from the police outpost. My friend, who was accompanying [my brother] saw it himself,” said Taufeeq, adding that his brother was not a part of the protests. DGP Singh said the firing was “not done from our side.” “I don’t know how the death occurred. I don’t think it has anything to do with this agitation or police action and police reaction,” Mr. Singh told reporters. Two persons allegedly received gunshot injuries and were being treated at KGMU but there was no confirmation yet if it was linked to protests.
Mr. Singh said more arrests were taking place on the basis of CCTV footage. “We will not spare anyone,” he said.
Four police station areas, Hazratganj, Thakurganj, Hasanganj and Wazirganj, were hit by violent protests. Police said one dozen vehicles were damaged or torched.
Protesters clashed with police forces, hurling stones and bricks at them. The police lathi-charged them and fired several rounds of tear gas to disperse them or push them back into the bylanes from where they continued to hurl stones.
The clashes lasted for several hours in parts of the old city, including areas close to the Chota Imambada and Parivartan Chowk. While the protests were centrally located at the Parivartan Chowk, which was cut off by police through barricades and the metro station near it shut down, the riot control forces struggled to contain the swelling numbers in other locations.
Senior police personnel had to rush from one location to another with their deployment to bring things under control.
After remaining peaceful initially, the worst-affected site was the Parivartan Chowk where around a dozen vehicles, including a State bus and media OB vans, were gutted as protesters, many of them with faces covered, indulged in arson.
The police outpost of Madehganj was also targetted and one police vehicle and half-a-dozen motorbikes parked outside it were engulfed in flames, while another car nearby was also damaged.
Plumes of smoke rose from the scene for several minutes even as police used force to restrict the protesters from coming on to the main road.
District Magistrate of Lucknow Abhishek Prakash said Section 144 was violated by the violent crowd. “There was stone-pelting at some places. Mild force was being used to bring crowds under control.”
The Satkhanda police outpost near the Chotta Imambada was torched and around seven bikes there were gutted.
Protesters came out of the bylanes in thousands, said senior SP (Lucknow) Kalanithi Nathani. “The crowd turned violent. Police used force to scatter them and prevent loss of life,” said Mr. Nathani.
CM Adityanath said acts of arson and vandalism would not be tolerated and that “revenge” would be extracted from those involved by seizing their properties.
Mr. Adityanath said violence in the name of protests against the CAA had the patronage of the Opposition parties including the Congress.
IG, Law and Order, Praveen Kumar who visited Parivarthan Chowk in the evening said things are under control. “We are identifying those involved in this. There is no panic situation,” he said.
Earlier, police said protests were held at 102 locations across the State and over 3,300 persons were detained.