As many as 21 people were killed in violent protests that broke out against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Uttar Pradesh last month. While many of them died of bullet injuries, the state police have owned up to firing in just one instance in the western district of Bijnor.
However, the police -- which have been accused of countering the protests with excessive force and high-handedness -- say that they were under fire too. The Uttar Pradesh government claims that about 300 police personnel were injured, of whom 57 suffered bullet injuries. But when asked for details of the policemen with gunshot wounds, the police top brass didn't seem as forthcoming.
One of the few policemen NDTV managed to trace was Muzaffarnagar Superintendent of Police Satpal Antil, who still walks around with a bandaged foot. When approached, he showed a photograph of what appears to be a bullet wound. "I was with my team at Meenakshi Chowk on December 20 when I was hit. I couldn't understand what happened at the time, only that I was bleeding a lot," he said.
While Uttar Pradesh police did not conduct a separate investigation into Mr Antil's shooting, they have filed a case of attempted murder against more than 200 protesters. A protester was also killed in Muzaffarnagar that day, allegedly in police firing.
However, barring this instance, attempts to get details of policemen with bullet injuries has proved challenging. PV Rama Sastry, a top police officer in the state, said they have a list of everybody with bullet injuries but suggested that NDTV get in touch with district-level police officers for the information. When NDTV contacted the police chiefs of some of Uttar Pradesh's worst-hit districts, they provided the number of those injured but little else.
While Meerut police chief Ajay Sahni said "six personnel were hit by stones and two Rapid Action Force personnel suffered firearm injuries", Bijnor Additional Superintendent of Police Vishwajeet Srivastava claimed that eight of the district's 21 injured personnel bore bullet wounds. Sambhal police chief Yamuna Prasad said over 15 police personnel were injured, nine of whom were shot at.
None of this information had any details to go with it.
However, shortly after this report was published, the Uttar Pradesh took to Twitter to say that the injury reports are "documented and part of the official record".
It was easier to find officials with injuries caused due to stone pelting. An image sent by Muzaffarnagar transport official Rajeev Kumar Bansal showed injuries on his head and hands. "We were just standing there when the mob began throwing stones. I had to get six stitches," he said.
Kanpur Sub Inspector Prabal Pratap said he was hit on the head with a stone during the protests. "I was deployed in a sensitive area .The mob threw stones at us," he told NDTV.
To counter videos showing cops firing at protesters, the Uttar Pradesh police released a series of photographs and videos showing two men - one of them wearing a blue jacket - firing at them in Meerut late last month. Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma also claimed that police have recovered over 500 cartridges of prohibited bores from places where violence broke out.
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 before 2015 because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the Constitution.