Lucknow, July 25 :
One person was killed and over two dozen others injured Friday when a crowd of thousands of Shias protesting against Uttar Pradesh Urban Development Minister Azam Khan clashed with the police here.
A crowd comprising old and young Shias, after offering the ‘alvida namaaz’ (farewell prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan) at the Asifi Imambada, decided to go ahead and stage a sit-in outside the residence of Azam Khan, who is also the Waqf minister, against his efforts to allegedly sneak in some “corrupt” office bearers in the Shia Waqf Board.
When the procession was prevented by police from moving ahead near the Shaheed Smarak, the protestors became violent and broke past the barricades. Police then carried out a baton charge in which many people were injured.
In the melee, an elderly man, identified as Qaraar Mehdi (65), was apparently pushed around and collapsed. He was found unconscious and taken to the hospital where doctors declared him dead.
Confirming the death, Deputy Inspector General, Lucknow, Navniet Sikera told IANS that it was not related to the baton charge. He also said that three policemen, including two sub-inspectors and a constable, had sustained serious injuries in the clash and were hospitalised.
District officials said that they had urged the Shia community leaders not to take out the procession owing to the sensitivity involved on the last Friday of Ramadan and the forthcoming Eid but th protesters did not pay heed to them.
Prominent Shia cleric Kalbe Jawwad, while slamming the use of force, condemned the alleged action of the minister and said that Khan was out to destroy the Waqf Board by deputing such corrupt people.
The minister was not available to comment as he was out of town.