Srinagar- Tension mounted in Jammu’s Bhaderwah and some areas of Kishtwar prompting authorities to impose a curfew while parts of Kashmir observed a shutdown over the derogatory remarks against Prophet of Islam by now-suspended BJP leaders.
Internet services were snapped in the Bhaderwah and Kishtwar towns as a precautionary measure. Mobile Internet was also suspended in parts of Kashmir, they said.
Sporadic incidents of stone-pelting were reported in Bhaderwah town. Some people, violating restrictions, came out on the streets and threw stones at security forces while raising slogans.
There was a minor incident of stone-pelting in Bhaderwah town but it has been brought under control. No one was injured, a senior officer told PTI.
The protest started in Baderwah town of Doda on Thursday when hundreds of people staged a sit-in against the remarks made by now-suspended BJP leaders Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal against Prophet.
After intense negotiations, the protestors agreed to clear the road and entered the neighbouring Jama Masjid. Purported video clips of the inflammatory speeches went viral on social media. The police have registered a case and warned people against taking the law into their own hands.
However, tension increased around midnight when two women, who came out of the mosque, claimed that they were roughed up by the security forces who were implementing the curfew in the town.
Stones were pelted at the security forces who had to later lob tear gas shells and resort to lathi charge.
Tension eased after senior officials, including the additional deputy commissioner, assured the protestors that an enquiry would be held to probe into the allegations levelled by the two women.
Additional Director General (ADG) of Police Mukesh Singh visited the Baderwah town along with the Divisional Commissioner of Jammu, Ramesh Kumar, and other officials to assess the situation.
Later, he told reporters that preventive measures have been taken to ease the situation and requested the media not to visit areas where stone-pelting had taken place as it could flare up the situation.
“Security forces have been deployed in large numbers in Bhaderwah town. The situation is under control. Anyone who tries to vitiate the atmosphere will face stringent action,” Singh said.
The ADG held a meeting with all security agencies, civil administration and the Army to assess the situation and asked them to take stringent action against the miscreants.
A route march was held in Masjid Mohalla, Sadar Bazar and Pasri Bus Stand in Bhaderwah town, Singh added.
Officials said the protests were peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere so far.
Union minister and Udhampur MP Jitendra Singh appealed for peace and harmony.
“Curfew has been imposed in both Doda and Kishtwar districts as a precautionary measure,” Divisional Commissioner, Jammu region, Ramesh Kumar told PTI.
Registering FIRs, the police have warned that anyone found violating law and order will not be spared.
“Action has been taken (over inflammatory speeches). A case has been registered under IPC sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) at Bhaderwah police station,” a police official said.
“Anyone who takes the law into his own hands will not be spared,” he said.
The divisional commissioner and the DIG will hold a meeting with religious leaders in the afternoon and they have been asked to persuade members of their communities to maintain peace.
Cleric Adil Ganai, who has been booked for making inflammatory and hate speeches in Bhaderwah on Thursday, tendered an apology for hurting the sentiments of a particular community.
“It was not against a community but a particular individual. Despite that, I hurt the feelings of a community, I apologise”, he told reporters. Ganai said it was the result of an emotional outburst. “I apologize for that.”
Taking to Twitter, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said, “I hope cooler heads prevail. Jammu and Kashmir has enough problems without adding to them with communal tension spreading in and around Bhadarwah. I appeal to everyone to maintain calm and ask my party colleagues to help normalise the situation at the earliest.”
Efforts On To Restore Peace In Bhaderwah: DGP
Meanwhile Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said efforts are on to defuse tension in Bhaderwah town, rocked by protests over controversial remarks against Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh), and expressed confidence that the situation will return back to normal soon.
Tension mounted in Bhaderwah and some areas of Kishtwar over the controversial remarks against the Prophet by two now-suspended BJP leaders, prompting authorities to impose a curfew and snap internet services there.
Singh said people should behave responsibly and maintain communal harmony.
“We are holding talks with them (people). Additional director general of police (ADGP) and the divisional commissioner have been sent to that area. They are both in Bhaderwah. The situation is being watched. We will soon bring it to normalcy, the J-K Police chief told reporters during a visit to Kathua to review arrangements with regard to the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra.
He said curfew has been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain peace and appealed to people to not get misled by provocation.
People should behave responsibly. If someone does anything wrong, action is taken against that person. It is not wise to come on roads at the instigation of someone and do acts which cause damage to communal harmony,” Singh said.
Expression of resentment on being instigated is alright to a level but no such step should be taken wherein police have to use force and take stringent action, the DGP said.
He said some people do not behave responsibly and do acts that disturb law and order.
“They speak very wrong. They should not speak like that. If someone hurts people’s feelings, there are aberrations,” Singh said.
Curfew has been imposed in Bhaderwah to stop such an activity, he added.
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