Lucknow/Shamli: Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday said they have arrested the state head of Popular Front of India (PFI) and 16 other workers of the organisation in connection with the violence in the state capital during the protests against the amended Citizenship Act last week.
Wasim, the state head of the PFI, was arrested for allegedly masterminding the violence, the police said.
In Shamli district in western Uttar Pradesh, 28 people, including 14 members of the PFI, have been arrested since December 19 for allegedly attempting to incite mass gatherings during anti-CAA protests.
"Total 14 PFI members including Mohammad Shadab, a prominent member of PFI, have been arrested. Two PFI members are wanted. Another 14 people were also arrested in the district," Shamli SP Vineet Jaiswal told PTI.
On December 19, the situation was tense in Shamli and its Kairana town and around 150 people were taken into preventive custody and released later in view of violent protests unfolding in other parts of the state, he said.
"We have got success in arresting the mastermind of Lucknow violence. Wasim, Nadeem and Ashfaq of PFI have been arrested by the police. While Wasim is the state head, Ashfaq is the treasurer and Nadeem is a member of PFI," SSP, Lucknow, Kalanidhi Naithani told reporters here.
UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma had on Sunday said that authorities suspect the role of PFI and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the violence during the anti-CAA protests in the state which claimed 18 lives and left hundreds of people, including many policemen, injured.
Police have seized placards, flags, pamphlets and papers, literature, newspaper cuttings and banners and posters of NRC/CAA protest from them, the SSP said.
During interrogation, Nadeem and Ashfaq told police that they made the strategy for December 19 protests and publicised it on social media, he added.
The official said 33 FIRs have been filed in the state capital and 150 people arrested so far.
He said Robin Verma and Mohammad Shoaib of the Rihai Manch have already been arrested for their involvement in inciting the mob.
Nadeem and Ashfaq incited people for the protest through WhatsApp and other platforms by sharing literature and video, Naithani said.
Official sources said the UP police had got intelligence inputs about PFI "planning unrest" Kairana and Kandhla towns of Shamli.
"Some of the PFI members who were detained had made trips to Kerala and met suspicious people there. Their link to violence in UP's Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Firozabad, etc is under investigation," the sources told PTI.