Mohammad Suleman, a 20-year-old student, was among the 18 killed during protests over the controversial Citizenship Law in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh . Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of casualties until now, during protests against the new law.

Uttar Pradesh police have now admitted that a civilian named Mohammad Suleman died after he was shot by police officer Mohit Kumar, allegedly in “self-defence”, reported the Indian Express.

Senior police officer Sanjeev Tyagi said ballistic reports had confirmed that the bullet was shot from the service pistol of Mohit Kumar, who also suffered a bullet injury from a domesticly-made weapon during clashes.

"The ballistic report confirms that this was shot from the service pistol of Mohit Kumar. Mohit Kumar also suffered a bullet injury, the Indian Express quoted Tyagi as saying. 

Suleman, who was preparing for civil service exams in Noida, had returned home to Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh state and was down with a high fever.

According to police, protesters snatched one of the officer’s service pistols during the protests, and a few policemen including Kumar chased the mob. Suleman allegedly opened fire on Kumar with the pistol and received a bullet in his stomach.

“In reply, Kumar fired from his service pistol and the bullet hit Suleman’s stomach,” said Tyagi. Kumar is currently in critical condition and undergoing treatment at a hospital in Bijnor district.

Reportedly, 20 policemen and hundreds of civilians were injured in the violent clashes on 20 December in Uttar Pradesh . Vehicles were set ablaze and public properties vandalised, as people hit the streets, defying prohibitory orders to show their anger against the citizenship law. Police had to repeatedly use teargas and pellet guns to disperse protesters.

Several parts of India have been witnessing protests over the controversial 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act, enacted by the federal government, that grants citizenship to illegal immigrants from six religious minorities – Hindus, Parsis, Jains, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan if they arrived in India prior to 2015. It, however, explicitly excludes Muslim refugees.

Since the Citizenship law was approved, people – students, political activists and people from the Muslim community throughout the country have taken to the streets in protest, as they believe the law violates the Indian constitution.