Uttar Pradesh government continued to use internet ban to allegedly prevent any untoward incidents on Friday, the day of prayers for the Muslim community, by blacking out services in at least eight districts of the state.
News reports suggest internet connectivity has already been blacked out in Bijnor, Bulandshahr, Muzaffarnagar, Agra, Firozabad, Sambhal, Aligarh and Ghaziabad districts of the northern state until Friday evening. They said services were also suspended in Kanpur.
“We’ve deployed security personnel in different districts of state and held talks with people. Internet services have been suspended in eight districts for a day, we’re also monitoring content on social media,” PV Ramasastry, ADG (law and order), said on Thursday (December 26).
Internetshutdowns.in, which tracks internet blackouts in India, suggests a similar scenario in Saharanpur, Sitapur and Mathura. However, there has been no report of an internet blackout in Lucknow, the state capital.
“We are getting reports the internet shutdown in Agra will continue. The suspension is for both broadband and mobile services from 8 am on December 26 to 6 pm on December 27,” said the official Twitter handle of internetshutdowns.in. For Mathura, Sitapur and Saharanpur, it did not specify any time, but said it will be restored by Friday evening.
Meanwhile, police in Muzaffarnagar conducted flag march on Thursday, in an indication that the cops are bracing for a fresh round of protests on Friday. In Gorakhpur too, security forces conducted a flag march. “We conducted flag march to instil a sense of security among people. During last Friday prayers, stone pelting incidents happened that was curtailed. We are prepared for tomorrow,” said SP Sunil Gupta.
Uttar Pradesh witnessed widespread violence in several parts of the state between December 19 and 21, resulting in the death of at least 19 protesters.
The state police on Thursday said 1,113 people were arrested and preventive action has been taken against 5,558 people in connection with the violence during protests against the Citizenship Act. It said 327 FIRs were registered across the state and 288 police personnel were injured in clashes.
(With inputs from agencies)