BJP Leader Arrested for ‘Insulting’ Comments on Prophet, 12 More Accused Held

Police here arrested a local BJP leader and 12 others in connection with the Kanpur violence, taking the total number of those held to 51, a senior official said. Around 10 more suspects have been detained for questioning. Besides, a 16-year-old boy walked into the Colonelganj police station and surrendered after his picture appeared on posters put up by police, DCP (East) Pramod Kumar said. Former district secretary of the BJP Yuva Morcha Harshit Srivastava has been arrested for posting inflammatory content on social media platforms, ADGP (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said.

Violence had erupted in parts of Kanpur after Friday prayers as members of two communities indulged in brick-batting and hurled bombs over attempts to shut shops in protest against “insulting” comments on Prophet Mohammed by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a TV debate. The Kotwali police on Tuesday lodged another FIR against people behind two Facebook accounts and three Twitter handles for spreading “fake and inflammatory content” about the June 3 violence, pushing the number of such users booked so far to 13, Pramod Kumar said.

The FIR has been registered against the operators of the Twitter handles “Duggalsahab15”, “shivaisrael” and “AkhandBharat”, and two Facebook account holders Abu Zaid and Kaushal Patel, the DCP said. The district administration has sealed a petrol pump situated nearby the Deputy Padav crossing after a CCTV footage showed people taking fuel in bottles from the filling station ahead of the Friday clashes, said another senior official. Since the sale of petrol in bottles is prohibited, the licence of the petrol pump has been suspended till further inquiry, he added.

During investigation, it has emerged that the rioters came from various districts and localities from far away. The SIT has shifted its focus on those who could be key conspirators and behind the funding for the riots, the official added. Besides, police have also started probing the role of Zara Hayat, the wife of Zafar Hayat Hashmi, a key conspirator, whose arrest was made from Hazratganj of Lucknow on Saturday. The evidence collected by the SIT raised doubts on Zara Hayat who was the administrator of several WhatsApp groups, the official pointed out.

On Monday, the Kanpur police had released posters with 40 images of people involved in the violence. Police are said to have gathered images of the alleged accused through several videos of the incident, including those captured on CCTV and mobile phones.

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