At least 15 people were killed in clashes between police and anti-Citizenship Act protestors in parts of Uttar Pradesh since Thursday, ANI reported on Saturday.

“Fifteen casualties have happened, and 263 police personnel were injured, of which 57 personnel received firearm injuries,” Inspector General (Law and Order), Praveen Kumar said. Since December 10, as many as 705 people were arrested and 4,500 people were released after preventive arrests, he said, adding that 263 police personnel were injured in the clashes.

Five of the deaths took place in Meerut, while an eight-year-old boy was killed in Varanasi. Two people each were killed in Kanpur, Bijnor and Firozabad, and one each in Muzaffarnagar and Sambhal, according to the Hindustan Times.

Meerut College Chief Medical Officer Dr Dheeraj Raj confirmed to The Hindu that three men were brought dead to the hospital. Besides them, one man who was allegedly hit during protests in Muzaffarnagar died during treatment, and nine persons, including four policemen, were undergoing treatment for gunshot injuries, Raj said.

One person who died on Thursday, Mohammad Wakeel, had gone out to buy groceries in Lucknow when he was shot, The Indian Express reported, quoting his family. “We got to know around 5 pm that he was shot,” Wakeel’s brother Shameem said. “We don’t know who shot him. When we rushed to the hospital, we were told he is dead. We are still figuring out if the police and administration will allow the body to be brought to the house before it can be taken to the graveyard.”

Anas, 22, who died in Bijnor, was out to buy tea when he was killed, his uncle Risalat Hussain told The Hindu. “There was a protest going on after the Friday prayers and perhaps he was caught in between,” Hussain added.

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh claimed that they did not “fire a single bullet” at protestors, according to NDTV. He said thousands took to the streets after Friday prayers in 20 of the 75 districts of the state. “But the protests soon turned violent,” Singh claimed. “Stones were thrown, arsonry was reported. The protesters fired illegal weapons. I don’t think police had any other option. But I should make it clear that nowhere did the police resort to firing, and not a single bullet was fired at the protestors. They died in firing among themselves. This will become clear after the postmortem.”

Chief Minister Adityanath is keeping a close watch on the situation and has cancelled all his programmes outside Lucknow, reported PTI.

Violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act spread to eight more districts of Uttar Pradesh on Friday. Since Thursday night, at least 3,000 people have reportedly been arrested across the state in connection with the protests against the amended citizenship law. Statewide prohibitory orders banning large gatherings are still in place.

In Bahraich, police had to use batons to push back protestors, while internet was blocked in Bulandshahr district from 3 pm, said District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar. A police van was torched in the district. Internet services also remained suspended in about a dozen districts, including Aligarh, Mau, Azamgarh, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur, Ghaziabad, Sambhal and Allahabad.

Protestors pelted stones at the police in Firozabad, Gorakhpur, Bhadohi and Sambhal districts, when demonstrators attempted to organise marches following Friday afternoon prayers. There were also reports of violence in Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Kanpur and Jaunpur. The district magistrate of Aligarh, Chandra Bhushan Singh, issued a red alert and stepped up security.

In Lucknow, the epicentre of Thursday’s protests, protests in the old city area turned violent.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed in Parliament on December 11, grants citizenship to people from six persecuted religious communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – except Muslims – provided they have lived in India for six years, and entered India on or before December 31, 2014.