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Friday prayers pass off peacefully in UP: DGP

Lucknow: Friday prayers passed off peacefully in Uttar Pradesh amid tight security arrangements put in place after last week's violence by anti-citizenship law protesters.

"The entire state was peaceful," Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police O P Singh said. He said there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the state.

The state was placed under a thick security cover with deployment of central paramilitary forces in sensitive areas.

Internet services were suspended in many places to check rumour-mongering, officials said.

Drones were also used to keep a vigil, particularly in areas where violence had broken out last week after Friday prayers.

Protesters had hurled stones at policemen and set vehicles on fire. Police used lathis, lobbed tear-gas and have admitted to opening fire in self defence in some places.

To a question, the DGP said the death toll in the clashes last week remained at 19.

Reports from Moradabad, Amroha and Hathras districts said the juma namaz was offered at various mosques and the congregations dispersed peacefully.

In state capital Lucknow, a heavy deployment of paramilitary force personnel was seen outside the historic Tiley Wali Masjid in the Old City area.

Patrolling had been intensified in sensitive areas across Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Friday prayers.

Around 3,500 personnel of central paramilitary forces and 12,000 jawans of the UP Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) were on the job to maintain peace, the state police chief said.

As a precautionary measure, Internet services which were resumed after nearly a week, were suspended again in over 20 of the 75 UP districts including Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Agra.

In Gorakhpur, police staged a flag march in Thursday in sensitive areas and held meetings with peace committees to avoid a repeat of the previous Friday's protests.

Police have faced flak over the manner in which they handled last week's violent protests, with human rights activists accusing them of using excessive force and targetting innocent people.

Most of the deaths during the violence had taken place due to firearm injuries. Officials claimed there was firing at some places by protesters but police opened fire at a couple of places only in self defence.

Meanwhile, the process to confiscate the property of those involved in damaging public assets during the protests gained momentum as 372 people were served notices in different districts till Thursday.

The maximum 200 notices were issued in Moradabad followed by 110 in Lucknow, 34 in Gorakhpur and 29 in Firozabad, an official spokesman said here.

In the entire state 1,113 people have been arrested so far for their alleged involvement in violence. A Home Department spokesperson said the violence left 288 policemen injured, including 61 with firearm injuries. He said 327 FIRs have been registered and 5,558 preventive arrests made so far.

A preliminary probe in the violence in Kanpur has suggested the role of some people from Kashmir and Bangladesh, police said on Thursday.

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