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UP arrest and march with axe

The Tricolour and the axe at the VHP march

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh police on Wednesday projected as "a major achievement" the arrest of the prime suspect in the murder of a youth in Kasganj during a Tricolour rally on Republic Day.

The arrest came on a day Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists took out Tricolour protest marches in several districts, ignoring prohibitory orders.

In Firozabad, a marcher was seen carrying a Tricolour as well as an axe. The axe was being flashed at a time allegations have surfaced that provocative display of weapons and raising of slogans had ignited the flare-up in Kasganj on Republic Day.

Police treated the Firozabad marchers with tact, meeting them halfway and accepting a memorandum, following which they dispersed.

R.P. Singh, the district magistrate of Kasganj, identified the arrested suspect as Mohammad Salim. "A manhunt is on to nab his two brothers and the other accused," Singh said.

Salim is accused of shooting dead Chandan Gupta on January 26.

Uttar Pradesh director-general of police O.P. Singh called the arrest of Salim a "major achievement of police".

"Salim had been put under surveillance. The special task force and special investigation team (SIT) were after him. We have recovered something from him," the DGP said.

He added that whatever had happened in Kasganj was "not a communal riot" but a "clash between two groups".

Police sources claimed they had found a revolver in some bushes in a village in Kasganj district, adding they believed the gun had been used to kill Chandan on January 26.

"It was recovered on the basis of clues given by Salim," said a police officer who asked not to be named.

Salim's arrest came a day after chief minister Yogi Adityanath held a videoconference with all district magistrates and district police chiefs where he was quoted as saying that he wanted results within 24 hours.

Victim Chandan's father Sushil Gupta had accused three siblings - Wasim Javed, Mohammad Salim and Mohammad Nasim - and a dozen others of killing his son. He said Wasim had opened fire from his rooftop as the procession by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Hindu Yuva Vahini passed through the locality in Baddu Nagar in Kasganj town.

After the arrest, the police stepped up the pressure on the absconders. The SIT, led by Om Prakash Singh, additional SP (crime) from the adjoining Etah district, broke open the lock of the house of Mohammad Barkatullah, the father of the three main accused, and took away a family album to identify his relatives and friends.

Later, a police team plastered a court notice on the doors of all the accused. "We will soon start confiscating the properties of the accused persons if they don't appear before the court," Ripudaman Singh, in-charge of Kasganj Kotwali police station, said.

On Wednesday, a procession of over 50 open vehicles and 100 motorcycles in Agra city was stopped midway by district magistrate Gaurav Daya and SSP Amit Pathak. The officials received a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Adityanath demanding harsh action against those who try to stop such processions.

Sunil Parashar, zonal vice-president of the VHP, said: "We don't need permission for a Tiranga yatra. Since the officers reached us before we could go to them, we dispersed after handing the memorandum to them."

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