Even as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act continued unabated across the country, fresh outrage has broken out over videos allegedly showing Uttar Pradesh police personnel vandalising shops and cars at a violence-hit neighbourhood in Kanpur.
In one of the videos shot clandestinely from the terrace of a house with a mobile phone on December 21, nearly a hundred police personnel can be seen breaking open the shutter of shops and damaging parked vehicles in Begumganj area hours after clashes had subsided. According to local residents, the loud noises heard in the footage are that of police breaking open shutters of shops.
The incident occurred a day before the state administration sealed over 60 shops at Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh.
Hi @kanpurnagarpol , i have many many videos of your alleged high handedness in the 'crack down' over the violence in the city over CAA, but this clip I have confirmed as 100 percent authentic so putting it out . it shows your men vandalising shops and cars .... pic.twitter.com/daaKFBFwYO— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) December 25, 2019
The crackdown on protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act has been particularly harsh in Uttar Pradesh, where 15 people have been reported killed so far. The police have finally admitted to opening fire at protesters, an action they earlier denied despite several videos pointing to the contrary.
Among those killed in the Kanpur violence was 30-year-old Mohammed Raees. "My son was not even a protester. He was washing utensils at a marriage party when commotion broke out. My brother told me that the police shot him directly," his father alleged, adding that he was not even allowed to see the body.
Kanpur police claim that they "did not fire even a single bullet" during their crackdown on protesters.
The Kanpur video emerged at a time when the Uttar Pradesh government has sent notices to 28 people in Rampur, asking them to pay for damages incurred during the Citizenship Act protests. They have been instructed to collectively cough up Rs 14.86 lakh.
However, protesters accuse the police of being equally responsible for damaging public and private property in disturbed areas. While a team of Delhi Police personnel left several classrooms and hostel rooms in ruins during their controversial crackdown on the Jamia Millia University earlier this month, visuals have emerged of police personnel breaking windshields of auto rickshaws and other vehicles.
According to critics of the amended law, police resort to such tactics in attempts to put the blame on protesters and malign the nationwide movement.
The Citizenship Amendment Act is aimed at expediting the process of granting citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Critics term the law as "discriminatory" and "unconstitutional", and claim that it could make millions of poor people from the Muslim community homeless when implemented in combination with the National Register of Citizens.