New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh police have released a series of photos and videos showing two men firing at cops during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act that rocked Meerut town last Friday. In one of the videos, a masked man in a blue jacket could be seen walking around with a gun.
Police said this was the kind of attacks they faced from violent mobs between December 19 and 21, forcing them to retaliate. While 15 people died across the state during clashes over the past week, Meerut registered the highest number of deaths at six.
Although many of the bodies bore gunshot wounds, the state police insisted that they did not shoot anything other than plastic pellets and rubber bullets. They have owned up to opening fire only at Bijnore, where a 20-year-old civil services aspirant died. Reports also emerged of police cracking down on areas across the state where violence had broken out, allegedly indulging in vandalism, destruction of property and even assault.
However, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma claimed that the police also suffered heavy losses. "As many as 288 policemen were injured in violence that erupted across 21 districts. Sixty-two of them suffered firearm injuries," he said at a press conference held over the weekend.
Mr Sharma also said that the police have recovered 500 cartridges of prohibited bores from places where violence broke out.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the destruction of public property during violent agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act and asked protesters to introspect if their actions have been "good or not".
"I want to ask people who resorted to violence in Uttar Pradesh to sit at home and ask themselves whether what they did is good or not. They destroyed buses and public property that belongs to the future generation," he said at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical University in Lucknow.
PM Modi also praised the Uttar Pradesh police for doing a "good job" in putting down protests.
The Citizenship Amendment Act for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.
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