Mass violence erupts in Azamgarh over Facebook post which allegedly questioned Islam

The Saraimeer area of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh was engulfed in mass violence on Saturday, following uproar over a Facebook post titled, Islam mein burqa kyon (Why does Islam prescribe Burqa), as reported by Times of India. Other reports have claimed that the individual made objectionable comments again Prophet Mohammed.

The report further claimed that the act resulted in a Muslim mob laying seize to the local police station, to demand the immediate arrest of Amit Sahu who wrote the Facebook post. The police promptly acted in the matter and apprehended Sahu on Friday night, after booking him under sections 66A and 295A of the IT Act.

This though failed to diffuse the situation and on Saturday a large crowd gathered on the street to demand sections of National Security Act (NSA) be slapped on Sahu. As per an Indian Express report, a group led by known criminal Kaleem Jamai reached the police station at 11 AM to chant slogans demanding slapping of NSA related charges. The mob then went out of control and started pelting stones on the policemen and vandalising nearby vehicles.

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Jamai who is believed to be the main perpetrator of the attack is wanted in 22 cases and was also believed to be responsible for 2016 Khudadarpur communal riot.

The violence which spread in the region as per a Dainik Jagran report, saw various incidents of arson which resulted in injuries to civilians and policemen. The mob also attacked a security guard, vandalised private banks, ATM and CCTV cameras.

As per an Amar Ujala report the violence was a premeditated conspiracy which was hatched on Friday, when the main perpetrator of the violence had issued threats over social media. The report also claimed that the stone pelting resulted in injuries to SDM Bagish Shukla and three police constables.

The resultant violence also included setting ablaze the Saraimeer square, following which the police had to resort to lathi charge, air firing and firing teargas shells, to bring the situation under control.

Later district administration dispatched a heavy police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) force to restore calm in the region. About 15 people have been arrested in connection with the rioting. Local reports have claimed that three cases have been registered in connection with the rioting, which name 45 people as accused.

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