Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Om Prakash Singh has condemned alleged police brutality and vandalism during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, but also said the footage of such illegal acts need to be verified first.
“Any illegal act by the policemen is always condemnable. The veracity of these footage needs to be verified. You have the video footage from both sides…we will see how best we can arrive at a certain conclusion,” said Singh in an interview to ThePrint.
Singh was referring to the several videos doing the rounds on social media in which UP policemen are purportedly seen vandalising properties, smashing cars and destroying CCTV cameras.
As many as 19 people have been killed in the violence that broke out as part of the anti-CAA protests. The families of many of these victims allege police firing as the cause of death.
DGP Singh, however, said only one death due to police firing has been confirmed so far.
“There has been one (death in) police firing in Bijnor due to the right to private defence. This was accepted by the local police chief. There was one constable who had fired back on a group of agitators who had perhaps shot at him. He received a bullet injury in his stomach…and he shot back,” he said.
In other parts of the state, such as Lucknow and Kanpur, the DGP chief said, the police had resorted to lathicharge and lobbed tear gas shells. “We didn’t order police firing in those areas. But the fact remains that people have died in those areas too,” he added.
‘We tried to chase them away with tear gas before firing’
Many of the 19 victims died of bullet injuries in the head. The UP Police has been severely criticised for not following the norm of crowd control — firing below the waist to avoid fatal injuries.
Reacting to this allegation, Singh said the police first tried to chase the protesters away.
“We took almost all precautions…we acted in a restrained manner. We tried to chase them away through tear gas shells, lathi-charge.” he said.
Singh, however, added, “How can you explain children of 12 or 13 or 14 years of age…hands full of stones…they were throwing stones at policemen.”
Singh also said the police have evidence that the protesters were using illegal arms.
“We recovered almost 700 empty cartridge shells from the affected areas. Those cartridges belong to non-prohibited bore, which suggests that they were being used by agitators because police normally don’t use such bores,” he said.
‘No innocents will be harmed at all’
Meanwhile, internet services have been revoked in several parts of the state, including the capital city of Lucknow. Internet was restored in Lucknow after six days on 25 December, only to be revoked again Friday. This has hit the economy of the city, with online services suffering massively.
DGP Singh said the internet was shut to “check the proliferation of fake news”. “In such a scenario, it is better to have no internet at all. Internet is a very robust medium of spreading fake news. This was a preventive strategy,” he added.
Singh said he would like to assure the people of Uttar Pradesh that “no innocents will be harmed at all”. “People should remain calm, quiet and not take law into their own hands.”
When asked what message he would like to give to the UP Police force, Singh said they should act with restraint.
“We have been sending out the message to police officers to behave in a proper manner. They should restrain themselves and act as per the law provisions.”
Singh added that the UP Police has been able to bring normalcy in the state in a short period of time.
Published at Sat, 28 Dec 2019 02:03:00 +0000