As pockets of Uttar Pradesh were hit by violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), thousands were arrested, detained and injured. Media reports have suggested that at least 20 people have lost their lives during these protests in Uttar Pradesh alone.
A report by The Indian Express has suggested that minors – mostly school-going children – are among those who have been arrested as well as injured.
Among the 42 detained in Sambhal, families of at least two have claimed that they were boys aged 16 and 17 years and were arrested on December 19.
On the one hand, the police has claimed no minor was arrested; on the other, the families of the two have alleged that their children have been locked up in Bareilly Jail for a week. The families of the two have also claimed that they haven’t been provided with a copy of the FIR and the two boys were taken to four different locations in the last one week.
Protests in Sambhal city of Western Uttar Pradesh had taken a violent turn last week, leaving two dead. Sambhal SP Yamuna Prasad told the publication, “We have arrested 42 persons related to the protests. But no juvenile has been arrested. We will check and, if they are found to be so, we will produce them before the Juvenile Justice Board.”
Muzaffarnagar, another town in western UP, has a similar story to tell. The newspaper reported that it met with at least three minors who were injured during the anti-CAA protests.
One of them was a 16-year-old boy, who claims to have been “shot by a policeman” just above his knee; two others – a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old studying in a madrasa – claim that they were beaten up by the police despite having nothing to do with the protests.
The 16-year-old's family said he had to be operated as the bone in his left leg had been shattered, and he has been advised bed rest for three months.
Situation in many parts of Uttar Pradesh continues to be volatile. Internet has been suspended in at least 21 districts in the state, including Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Kanpur, Bareilly, Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Agra and Aligarh till Friday midnight. Ahead of Friday prayers, security has been beefed up and patrolling intensified in view of protests against the contentious Citizenship Act and NRC.