Kanpur: Police continue “arbitrary arrests,” 3 PFI activists held

The Uttar Pradesh Police on Wednesday arrested three Muslim youth associated with the Popular Front of India (PFI) in connection with the Kanpur violence, taking the total number of arrests in the case to 54.

“The three, identified as Saifullah, Mohammad Naseem and Mohammad Umar, with affiliation to PFI, were identified in 2019. They had also been arrested during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019,” Kanpur Police Commissioner Vijay Singh Meena told reporters.

The arrests come after Muslims in Kanpur accuse the city police of arbitrary arrests and intimidation of Muslims in connection with the violence over protests against derogatory comments on prophet Muhammed by BJP leader.

The city witnessed violence on Friday after a Hindu mob attacked a protest led by Muslims against the Islamophobic comments of BJP leader Nupur Sharma.

On Friday, a Muslim organisation called to shut down shops at the Parade Market – one of the biggest wholesale markets in the city – over the comments made by Sharma about Prophet Mohammed in a televised debate. The clashes began when the Hindu groups started hurling stones at protesting Muslims. Videos showed the Hindu mob attacking Muslims in the presence of cops.

On June 4, police had registered three FIRs against more than 1,000 unknown persons, out of which 55 people have been named as accused, all of whom are Muslims, according to The Wire.

Last day, the city police has released the pictures of 40 “rioters.”

All the 40 men are from Muslim community, a local activist said to Maktoob.

Police said they have gathered images of the persons through video clips, cameras and CCTV footage. The police have announced that the identities of people who share any information about these 40 men will be protected. The police said to reporters that they have been inundated with phone calls since the photos were made public.

According to news agency PTI, the Uttar Pradesh Police have decided to put up hoardings of these men at prominent places in and around the affected areas.

“25 hoardings with photographs of about 20 key accused, who allegedly took part in the June 3 violence, will be put up at prominent places in and around the affected areas and neighbouring pockets,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (East), Pramod Kumar, told the agency.

Police have also filed an FIR against journalist and Millat Times editor Shams Tabrez Qasmi for tweeting videos of Hindu mob and police attacking Muslims in Kanpur.