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June 11, 2022 11:30 pm

Protests Continue Over Insulting Remarks Against Prophet

A group of women hold a protest at Srinagar’s Press Enclave against suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s derogatory words against the Prophet. KO Photo, Abid Bhat

Two Dead In Ranchi, Howrah Simmers, Bulldozers Raze Properties of Accused in UP

Ranchi/Kolkata/Lucknow- Two persons succumbed to gunshot wounds in Jharkhand capital Ranchi and fresh demonstrations were held in West Bengal’s Howrah on Saturday as tension prevailed in several parts of the country a day after the violent protests against the derogatory remarks by BJP’s now-sacked two functionaries on Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh).

Authorities suspended the Internet and tightened security in the affected districts as they cracked down on protesters allegedly involved in violence and clashes with police personnel on Friday, with nearly 240 people arrested in Uttar Pradesh alone. Cases have also been registered in Delhi, Maharashtra and other states.

In UP’s Kanpur and Saharanpur on Saturday administration demolished parts of the properties of three persons accused of participating in protests that broke out against the disparaging remarks made by two BJP leaders.
While a bandh was observed on Saturday in the Jharkhand capital on a call by Hindu outfits against the violence, around 2,500 police personnel were deployed and the internet was suspended in the district.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren formed a two-member committee, comprising senior IAS officer Amitabh Kaushal and Additional Director General of Police Sanjay Latkar to investigate the violence that left two persons dead and at least 24 people injured, a senior official told PTI.

The committee has been asked to submit its report to the state government in a week, he said.

Mohammad Mudassir Kaifi (22), who had gunshot wounds on his head, and 24-year-old Mohammad Sahil, with bullet injuries on neck, died during treatment, an official of state-run Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences said in Ranchi.

“Both were residents of Ranchi,” he said, adding that eight others are in the ICU.

Ranchi’s Deputy Inspector General Anish Gupta said a Special Investigation Team has also been set up to probe the incident. “Three FIRs have been lodged so far. Search operations are on to arrest the persons involved in the violence,” he said.

On Saturday, the Kanpur Development Authority demolished a four-storey high-rise building owned by a close aide of the main accused in the violence that broke out last week, PTI reported.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Anand Prakash Tiwari told PTI that the demolished building is owned by Mohammad Ishtiyaq, a close aide of the prime accused in the case Zafar Hayat Hashmi.

In Delhi police registered a case in connection with Friday’s protest outside Jama Masjid and under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and further investigation is underway, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Shweta Chauhan said.

Fresh violence was reported in the Panchla Bazaar area in West Bengal’s Howrah district as protesters clashed with the police, set ablaze several houses and also vandalised a BJP party office.

Protests had erupted in several parts of Howrah district on Friday with people indulging in stone-pelting, setting police vehicles on fire and damaging public property.

Internet services have been suspended across the district till June 13 and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC imposed in several areas such as Uluberia, Domjur and Panchla till June 15.

On Saturday, authorities suspended internet services in parts of Murshidabad district also till June 14.

The West Bengal government effected a police reshuffle in Howrah district, appointing Praveen Tripathi, Additional CP of Kolkata Police, the new Commissioner of Police of Howrah City and other officers.

The decision was taken during an emergency meeting held in the state secretariat over the current situation in Howrah district.

BJP’s West Bengal unit president Sukanta Majumdar was arrested on Saturday afternoon near the toll plaza on Vidyasagar Setu when he was on the way to violence-hit Howrah district. “His visit could have created a law and order situation. This is a preventive arrest,” a senior police officer told PTI.

Majumdar, the MP of Balurghat in Uttar Dinajpur, said the situation in West Bengal was fast turning into that in Kashmir.

Following Majumdar’s arrest, BJP leaders and workers hit the streets in Kolkata, Uttar Dinajpur, Cooch Behar, Birbhum and Jalpaiguri districts.

BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh, however, managed to enter Howrah and visit the areas where offices of his party were attacked.

Nupur Sharma was suspended by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while another leader, Naveen Jindal, was expelled over their insulting remarks on Prophet Mohammad.

The comments led to an intense backlash in several Islamic countries and calls for a boycott of Indian products. There have been protests in many Indian cities as well, while multiple FIRs have been registered against Sharma.

Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim demanded the arrest Sharma.

“She should be arrested immediately. BJP is trying to vitiate the atmosphere of the country,” he said.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi accused the BJP of not taking timely action against Sharma. He said that nobody should indulge in violence over the issue and police should also not take the law into their hands.

“Nupur Sharma is not being arrested. As per the law, she should be arrested. Why don’t you arrest her and take legal action against her?

“The BJP’s action of suspending her for violating the party’s constitution did not resolve the issue, and one should also think of the Indian Constitution,” the Owaisi said.

Union minister Ramdas Athawale appealed to people, especially Muslims, to maintain peace and said the government and police are keeping an eye on those trying to trigger communal violence in the country.

“The BJP has already taken action against the two leaders and therefore, there is no need for an agitation. People need to maintain calm,” the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment said in Jammu.

Uttar Pradesh police said it had arrested 237 people from various districts. In Saharanpur and Prayagraj, police officials said action will be taken against those arrested under the stringent National Security Act.

Among those arrested, 68 were held in Prayagraj and 50 in Hathras, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said in a statement on Saturday.

He said 55 people were arrested in Saharanpur, 28 in Ambedkarnagar, 25 in Moradabad, eight in Firozabad, and three is Aligarh.

UP Chief Minister Adityanath, who has often spoken of how under his rule the state has been rid of frequent riots, issued a stern warning.

“Strictest action will be taken against the anti-social elements involved in the chaotic efforts to spoil the atmosphere in various cities in the past few days,” he said while issuing directives to officials.

“There is no place for such anti-social people in a civilised society. No innocent should be harassed, but not a single guilty should be spared,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) demanded that high-resolution cameras be installed inside and outside every mosque and madrasa.

VHP working president Alok Kumar said those trying to pollute the peaceful and harmonious atmosphere of the country will have to understand that India is run by the Constitution and not by the Shariat.

The religious places , from where the alleged violent mobs came out and indulged in rioting, must also own up to their responsibility, the VHP working president said.

Besides, the VHP also demands that high-resolution video cameras be installed inside and outside every mosque and madrassa as well as in the Muslim-dominated areas for monitoring of the activities in these places, the outfit’s national spokesperson Vinod Bansal said.

In Maharashtra, several cases were registered in connection with Friday’s protests.

An FIR was registered at Panvel city Police station under section 37 (1) (3), 135 of Maharashtra Police Act (violating prohibitory orders) against the protesters. Cases were also registered at Ganesh Peth Police Station at Nagpur city, City Chowk in Aurangabad city, Shahada in Nandurbar, Kotwali Police Station at Ahmednagar, Sadar Bazar at Jalna and Sadar Bazar at Solapur.

A case had been registered against over 100 demonstrators who staged an agitation in Aurangabad. They have been booked under section 149 (unlawful assembly) and other relevant provisions of the IPC and Motor Vehicles Act, an official from the Begumpura police station said.

A large number of Muslims staged a protest in front of a police station in Nashik city demanding action against a netizen for allegedly posting derogatory material about Prophet Mohammad.

Senior police officers, including commissioner of police Jayant Naiknavare, rushed to the spot and pacified the protesters.

A case was registered under section 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), and other charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the cyber police station.

BJP’s controversial Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur came out in support of Sharma, saying that if anybody insults Hindu deities, then such people would be told the “truth”.

After Thakur’s comments made here on Friday, the opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh sought a clarification from the BJP on its stand.

In the wake of the violent protests, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said he has directed police to take all steps to maintain law and order in the state.

“Presently, the situation is peaceful in the state. The police have been instructed to deploy the forces in sensitive areas,” the chief minister said.

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