Protests Flare Up In Many Indian States Against Prophet Remarks

Traders protest in Srinagar against insulting remarks on Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) | KO Photo By Abid Bhat

Clashes Break Out In UP; West Bengal

Lucknow/Ranchi– Protests erupted in several parts of the country on Friday against the derogatory remarks on Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) by now-suspended two BJP leaders. In several cities protests turned violent with security forces resorting to cane-charge, tear gas shelling and firing.

Authorities imposed prohibitory orders in parts of Ranchi as slogan shouting protesters carrying placards demanded the arrest of Nupur Sharma, former national spokesperson of the ruling BJP, and Naveen Jindal, a former head of the Delhi BJP’s media unit.

Most of the protests including at the historic Jama Masjid in Delhi broke out after the Friday prayers and several arrests were also made by the police.

Hundreds of protesters massed outside Jama Masjid and some of them gathered on the steps of the mosque. However, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, distanced himself from the protests saying “nobody knows who the protesters were” and demanded action against such people.

Senior police officials said the protests were held peacefully and lasted for 15 to 20 minutes.

In Uttar Pradesh, stones were pelted at policemen in Prayagraj and Saharanpur during the protests which were also witnessed in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow.

In Prayagraj, some motorcycles and carts were set on fire and an attempt was made to set ablaze a police vehicle, a police official said.

Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse mobs and peace was later restored, the official said, adding that one policeman was hurt in Prayagraj. In Saharanpur, protesters demanded the death sentence for Nupur Sharma.

Prohibitory orders were imposed in parts of Jharkhand capital Ranchi after some policemen and others were injured while trying to control an irate mob near Hanuman temple on the city’s Main Road, an official said.

Police fired in the air besides resorting to lathi-charge to control the mob which spilled out on the road after Friday prayers in a mosque located close by. The protesters shouted slogans and pelted policemen with stones.

Asked about the number of policemen and civilians injured in the violence, Ranchi Deputy Commissioner, Chhavi Ranjan told PTI that the exact number is being ascertained.

Drone surveillance was also being carried out in the affected area to keep an eye on miscreants.

The apex child rights body National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said children were used in many of the “violent demonstrations” witnessed on Friday and that it would take strict legal action.

Hundreds of protesters blocked roads in different parts of Howrah district in West Bengal. Some agitators clashed with personnel at Dhulagarh, Panchla and Uluberia when they tried to lift the blockade on National Highway-6.

Police had to baton charge to disperse the crowd at Dhulagarh and Panchla, where the demonstrators pelted stones in retaliation, causing damage to nearby cars, police said.

The protesters also blocked railway tracks between Fuleswar and Chengail stations in the Howrah-Kharagpur section from 1.22 pm, a South Eastern Railway official said, adding four trains were cancelled, while two were diverted due to the agitation.

Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar appealed for peace, and sought an urgent update on the law and order situation by the state’s chief secretary.

In Gujarat, protests were held in some areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Shops and markets in Muslim-dominated Dariyapur and Karanj areas in Ahmedabad remained shut while in Dariyapur, several men and teenagers gathered on a main road with placards proclaiming love for the Prophet and demanding the arrest of Nupur Sharma.

Protests were staged in several cities of Maharashtra though no untoward incident was reported from anywhere.

“A law needs to be formulated to punish people who hurt religious sentiments…We will fight on this issue with complete strength,” AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel told protesters in Aurangabad.

In Panvel city in Navi Mumbai, at least 3,000 protesters including around 1,000 women took out a march, demanding the arrest of Sharma and Jindal.

A protest was also held at Shivaji Chowk in Vashi, where a delegation submitted their demands to the Vashi Police Station. Similar protest gatherings or marches were held in Thane, Solapur, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Beed, Latur, Bhandara, Chandrapur and Pune.

Protesters in Hyderabad were seen holding placards that read “Arrest Nupur Sharma.”

Several students of Jamia Millia Islamia staged a demonstration on the varsity campus in Delhi and demanded the arrest of Sharma.

The BJP on Sunday suspended Sharma and Jindal after their derogatory comments on the Prophet sparked a huge furore including in the Arab world.

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