The Uttar Pradesh government has stepped up security and shut down internet in several districts in anticipation of fresh protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act on Friday, PTI reported.

Paramilitary force personnel, state police force and drones have been deployed, Gorakhpur District Magistrate Vijyendra Pandiyan said. They also staged a flag march in sensitive areas and held a meeting with peace committees in all circle and police station areas.

At least 18 people have died in Uttar Pradesh since protests erupted last week following Friday prayers.

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh said the law and order situation in the state was under control, ANI reported. “We continue to have strategic deployment of forces, Special Investigation Teams formed to investigate cases,” he added. “We have suspended internet services in 21 districts, they will be restored as and when the situation demands.”

Singh said those involved in violence during the protests against the amended citizenship law will not be spared. “And that is the reason we have arrested active members of many organisations, whether it is PFI or any other political parties,” he said.

The internet shutdown will last for different lengths of time in different parts of the state. In Agra, Internet services will be suspended from 8 am to 6 pm on Friday, a senior police official said. Internet services and messages of all mobile service providers except BSNL will remain suspended in Lucknow today.

Other places where internet remains suspended include Bijnor, Bulandshahar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Agra, Firozabad, Sambhal, Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Rampur, Sitapur and Kanpur.

“We are also monitoring content on social media,” Additional Director General (Law and Order) PV Ramasastry said.

The Information and Communication Department of the state government said 498 people have been identified in connection with the damage caused to public property during last week’s protests.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, grants citizenship to six religious minority groups from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, provided they have lived in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised and called discriminatory because it excludes Muslims.