Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday said they have arrested the state head of Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and his two aides for allegedly masterminding violence in Lucknow during the protests against the new citizenship law.
“We have got success in arresting the mastermind of Lucknow violence. Wasim, Nadeem and Ashfaq of PFI have been arrested by police. While Wasim is state head, Ashfaq is treasurer and Nadeem is a member of PFI,” Lucknow SSP Kalanidhi Naithani told reporters.
Police have recovered placards, flags, pamphlets and papers, literature, newspaper cuttings and banners and posters of NRC/CAA protest from them, Naithani said.
Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma had said on Sunday authorities suspect the role of PFI and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the violence, which has claimed 18 lives and left hundreds of people, including many policemen, injured.
During interrogation, Nadeem and Ashfaq told police they made the strategy for the December 19 protest and publicised it on social media, the SSP said.
The official said 33 FIRs have been filed in the state capital and 150 people arrested.
He said Robin Verma and Mohammad Shoaib of the Rihai Manch have already been arrested for their involvement in inciting the mob.
Nadeem and Ashfaq incited people for the protest through WhatsApp and other platforms by sharing literature and videos, Naithani said.
Maulana Shadab and 11 members of PFI were earlier arrested in Shamli in similar cases, he added.
On Monday, the state remained peaceful with no report of any untoward incident and Director General of Police OP Singh issued directives to police officials to go for “qualitative investigation” into the cases registered against persons who took part in anti-CAA protests.
“There should be impartial and qualitative investigation, no innocent person should be harassed and investigations should be done by competent investigation officers in every district,” Singh said in a statement.
“Apart from this, Superintendent of Police, Senior Superintendent of Police, and officers of zone-level and range-level should supervise transparent investigation,” the DGP added.
The police also claimed that more than 700 cartridges were recovered during anti-citizenship law protests in the state and maintained that they did not use any of them.
“Law and order is under control, situation is normal in UP. 213 FIRs have been filed, 925 persons have been arrested so far (since Dec 10) in connection with anti-CAA protests in the state,” an official statement issued by police said.
As many as 288 policemen have suffered injuries, of which 62 have firearm injuries.
“Live and fired cartridges of non-prohibited bore (not used by police) in excess of 700 have been recovered from ‘peacefully protesting’ citizens,” the police tweeted.
Meanwhile, a video has gone viral in which a sub- inspector is seen loading his pistol amid what sounded like gunshots. The 90-second video shows a Khakhi-clad policeman with chest guard and helmet loading his pistol during a protest against the amended law.
The video appeared to be from Yateemkhana area in Kanpur.
Senior police officials, including IG Mohit Agarwal, have claimed that police did not resort to firing to control the protesters.
Several districts of the state were hit by protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The police blamed “outsiders” associated with Islamic outfits like PFI and SIMI for the violence in which 17 people died.