Uttar Pradesh police arrested 227 people from various districts in the state in connection with Friday’s violence during protests against the controversial remarks of suspended BJP functionary Nupur Sharma, with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath warning of strictest action against those attempting to vitiate the atmosphere.
Among those arrested, 68 were held in Prayagraj and 50 in Hathras, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said in a statement on Saturday.
He said 48 people were arrested in Saharanpur, 28 in Ambedkarnagar, 25 in Moradabad and eight in Firozabad.
UP Chief Minister Adityanath, who has often spoken of how under his rule the state has been rid of frequent riots, issued a stern warning.
“Strictest action will be taken against the anti-social elements involved in the chaotic efforts to spoil the atmosphere in various cities in the past few days,” he said while issuing directives to officials.
“There is no place for such anti-social people in a civilised society. No innocent should be harassed, but not a single guilty should be spared,” he said.
Mrityunjay Kumar, the media advisor to the chief minister, in a tweet in Hindi said, “Remember, every Friday is followed by a Saturday” and posted a photo of a bulldozer demolishing a building.
Under Chief Minister Adityanath, the state administration has been cracking down on criminals and riot accused, seizing or razing their properties. His critics have often accused him of adopting strong-arm tactics.
On Friday, people pelted stones at police personnel in Prayagraj and Saharanpur during their protests after Friday prayers in mosques.
At least four other cities witnessed similar scenes during the marches that were carried out to protest against the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad made by now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.
In Prayagraj, the mob set on fire a few motorcycles and carts and also attempted to set ablaze a police vehicle. Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse the protesters and restored peace, police said. One police personnel was injured, they said.
Nupur Sharma was suspended by her party as several Islamic nations denounced her comments on the Prophet during a TV debate.
In Saharanpur, protesters shouted slogans against Sharma and demanded the death sentence for her.