The Varanasi Police registered non-bailable warrants against 12 persons named in a case on charges of attacking policemen when people gathered at Beniyabagh Ground to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act on January 23, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
The police had also released pictures of 19 protesters and announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for information leading to their arrest. The police claimed that the demonstrators had violated prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and had gathered for the protest without permission. Section 144 of the CrPC prohibits the assembly of four or more people.
The Varanasi Police registered a first information report against 32 identified and 600 unidentified persons at the Chowk Police Station. The police arrested six persons from the spot of the protests, and dispersed the others using force within an hour of the incident.
“On the basis of evidence, which includes WhatsApp messages shared by people asking to reach the protest venue, we identified 12 persons involved in the violence,” Dashashwamedh Ghat Circle Officer Preeti Tripathi said. “We also scrutinised photographs and videos of the protest. We have obtained NBW against 12 persons and raids are on to trace them.”
She added that the 12 persons include Varanasi resident Srishti Kashyap, who was “found to be one of the organisers of the protest”.
In Etawah too, on January 23, the police dispersed demonstrators using force. Protestors, including women, had gathered at the Pachraha Road near Red Cross society office. A first information report was filed against 12 identified and 800 unidentified persons at the Kotwali Police Station. The police have not made any arrests so far.
“Initially, we tried to convince protesters through counselling,” Etawah City Circle Officer SN Vaibhav Pandey claimed. “When more people started gathering at the spot and tried to create nuisance, we used force to disperse the crowd.”
In Raebareli, the police booked 300 unidentified people for allegedly blocking a road during a protest against the new citizenship law at the Town Hall locality.
The Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.
Uttar Pradesh has seen a lot of violence between protestors and the police over the last month and a half. At least 19 people have been killed in the state alone, and 26 nationwide. The Uttar Pradesh Police have been accused of brutality, of entering and vandalising homes, and of detaining and torturing children.