Violence erupted in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur on Friday after one group tried to force shopkeepers to shut down shops at a popular market in the city over alleged offensive comments about Prophet Muhammed on a television show.
Clashes erupted when one group opposed the shutdown call by the other. Stones were pelted, crude bombs were hurled, and police had to resort to lathicharge and tear gas shelling to disperse the rampaging mob.
So far,18 people have been arrested in connection with the incident, police said. Three FIRs have been lodged, in which 40 people have been named as accused while 1,000 others are yet to be identified.
Here’s what led to the clashes and all that has happened since:
1. A few Muslim leaders in Kanpur had called for closure of shops on Friday in protest against BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s controversial remarks against Prophet Mohammed during a recent news debate on the Gyanvapi issue.
2. One group came to shut down shops in Parade Market — one of the biggest wholesale markets in the city — after Friday prayers. “Suddenly, around 50-100 people came and started raising slogans, which was opposed by the other side. Then there was stone pelting,” said Kanpur police commissioner Vijay Singh Meena.
3. The two groups came to blows at the city’s Parade Chowk area. Videos shot amidst the violence showed people hurling stones and attacking one another. Bombs were lobbed and shots were also fired, according to reports.
4. The police resorted to lathicharge and fired tear gas shells to disperse the mob and prevent further violence. Police commissioner Vijay Singh Meena said the situation is under control now.
5. Twelve companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) have been deployed to maintain law and order, and senior officials are also being sent there to monitor the situation, he said.
Police personnel use tear gas to disperse people amid clashes in Kanpur on June 3
6. Police have arrested 18 people under the Gangster Act for their alleged involvement in the violence. Trouble-makers are being identified through video clips and photographs collected from different sources, Police commissioner Vijay Singh Meena. Miscreants will be booked under the Gangster Act, their property will be confiscated and bulldozers will run, he said.
7. Meena said a conspiracy by the Popular Front of India (PFI) or any other organisation to incite violence is being investigated. He added that a conspiracy is being suspected as the organisation that called the bandh withdrew the call after talking to the administration, but violence suddenly broke out on Friday, he said.
8. In Maharashtra two cases have been registered against BJP leader Nupur Sharma— in Thane and in south Mumbai — for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims during a TV debate. She has been booked for ‘promoting enmity, outraging religious feelings’, ‘uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person’, ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of a class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs’, and other offences.
9. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi, “Owing to the failure of the police and the intelligence machinery, at a time when the president, prime minister and chief minister were in the city, the provocative statement given by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma caused unrest. The BJP leader should be arrested. We appeal to all to maintain peace.”
Clashes break out between two groups in Kanpur