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Prophet row: Arrest count in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal increases; sporadic incidents reported even as situation de-escalates

Several towns across West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, where protests over the comments of erstwhile BJP spokespersons on the Prophet had spiralled into violence on June 10, were limping back to normalcy on Monday.

The count of persons arrested by the police in the two States rose to 333 in Uttar Pradesh and 200 in Bengal; 13 FIRs have been registered by the U.P. police while their West Bengal counterparts have lodged 42 FIRs so far.

Sporadic incidents were, however, reported from parts of Bengal on Monday.

In North 24 Parganas, train services were briefly affected after protesters blocked the tracks near the Hashnabad railway station. The police in Bethuadahari, Nadia district, had to resort to baton charge to disperse a mob that had gathered near the railway station; a local train had been attacked by protesters there a day earlier.

An uneasy calm prevailed in Howrah, where protests had erupted on June 9. “No fresh violence has been reported in the past 48 hours,” said Jawed Shamim, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), West Bengal. He said there has been no loss of life or serious injury and the FIRs have been lodged for road blockade, assault, rioting, damage to public property and spreading communal hatred. “Nobody will be spared. We will identify each and everyone and take strict action,” Mr. Shamim told journalists at the State Secretariat.

His U.P. counterpart Prashant Kumar issued a district-wise break-up of arrests on Monday: 92 in Prayagraj, 81 in Saharanpur, 51 in Hathras, 41 in Ambedkar Nagar, 40 in Moradabad, 17 in Firozabad, six in Aligarh and five in Jalaun. Of the 13 cases, three have been registered in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, and one each in Firozabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Moradabad, Hathras, Aligarh, Lakhimpur Kheri and Jalaun, the ADG said.

A group of lawyers who had approached the Allahabad High Court against the demolition of the house of Javed Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the violence that took place in Prayagraj, were told by the Chief Justice to file a regular petition. It is now likely to be filed on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the national capital, several student groups held demonstrations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia on Monday in support of former JNU student Afreen Fatima, Mr. Mohammad’s daughter.

Meanwhile, police in Thane, Maharashtra, registered a case against a 22-year-man who had posted a message on a social media platform in support of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma a day earlier.

Prohibitory orders have been clamped on Kamrup district, in which Guwahati is situated, in Assam to maintain “public peace and tranquility”. They were earlier imposed in Cachar and Karimganj districts in the State’s Barak Valley last week.

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