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Violent protests break out across country over remarks on Prophet

Source: PTI
Last updated on: June 10, 2022 23:43 IST
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Protests erupted in several parts of the country on Friday against the controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad by two now-suspended Bharatiya Janata Party functionaries leaving a few policemen injured in stone pelting and forcing security forces to resort to lathi-charge, tear gas shelling and firing in the air at some places.

IMAGE: Protestors throw stones on police as they agitate over controversial remarks made by two suspended BJP leaders about Prophet Muhammad, in Prayagraj, on Friday, June 10, 2022. Photograph: PTI Photo

Delhi

In Delhi, the protesters massed outside the historic Jama Masjid after the Friday prayers demanding the arrest of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.

A large crowd of people gathered on the steps of the famous mosque, carrying placards and shouting slogans against Sharma and Naveen Jindal, former head of the Delhi BJP's media unit.

IMAGE: Police personnel maintain outside Delhi's Jama Masjid as protests broke out after Friday prayers on June 10, 2022. Photograph: PTI Photo

There was heavy security deployment to manage the situation and avoid any untoward incident.

According to senior police officials, the protest was held peacefully on the stairs near gate number one of the mosque, and it lasted for around 15 to 20 minutes.

The protesters were dispersed from the area later.

"The protest was held near the gate number one of Jama Masjid. We demanded the arrested of Nupur Sharma for her remark on Prophet Mohammad. It was a peaceful protest, and people left the area after a while," said Akram Qureshi, a resident of the area.

IMAGE: Security personnel chase away people protesting in Ranchi. Photograph: PTI Photo

"Nupur Sharma should be arrested. I will keep protesting until she is put behind the bars. How dare she disrespect our religion," questioned 57-year-old Baba Mastan, who was part of the protest.

Mohammad Fahad, 59, a shopkeeper, said, "The protest started at 2 pm. They were dispersed by the police within 15-20 minutes. It was a peaceful protest."

Even after the protesters were dispersed, teams of the police and the CISF continued to be deployed in the area..

Uttar Pradesh

People pelted stones at policemen in Prayagraj and Saharanpur and protests broke out after Friday prayers in at least four other cities in Uttar Pradesh.

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

IMAGE: Security personnel baton-charge protestors in Prayagraj. Photograph: PTI Photo

Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse mobs and peace was later restored, they said, adding that one policeman was hurt in Prayagraj.

There was slogan-shouting against Sharma over her remarks during a TV debate.

In Saharanpur, protesters demanded death sentence for her.

There were also protests in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow over the controversial remarks. Sloganeering took place in Lucknow.

IMAGE: Muslims stage a protest after offering Friday prayers, in Beawar. Photograph: PTI Photo

According to local people, stone pelting continued for over 15 minutes in Prayagraj.

They said some of the miscreants pelted stones at the police personnel deployed on the main road, as the situation escalated when more people joined the stone pelters.

Assistant Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said, "Minor force was used to stop some people involved in the violence. The situation in Prayagraj is now peaceful. I would like to appeal to people to use democratic ways of protest without resorting to violence."

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh's Director General of Police (DGP) D S Chauhan said no life has been lost because of the proper arrangements made by the state police.

IMAGE: Stone-pelting in Prayagraj. Photograph: PTI Photo

"Because of our preparedness, no life has been lost. We will take strict action against those found involved in the violence," he said.

Additional Director General (ADG), Parayagraj Zone, Prem Prakash said a constable of Rapid Action Force (RAF) was injured during stone pelting in the region.

Additional police force and teams of RAF were rushed to the spot. The police also fired tear gas shells and used force to stop the miscreants, he said.

In Saharanpur, people holding placards raised slogans against Sharma.

Some of them also turned violent after the security personnel tried to stop them.

IMAGE: Police personnel fire tear gas to disperse protestors in Prayagraj. Photograph: PTI Photo

This led to brief stone pelting in Nehru market area of the city. Some madrasa students also raised slogans in Deoband area.

The protestors also raised slogans demanding capital punishment for the BJP leader.

District Magistrate Akhilesh Singh told PTI, "Police had to retort to force when the protesters refused to hear the appeals of peace by police personnel. The protestors are being identified using CCTV footage for further action."

Four people, including the district president of AIMIM, were arrested in Bijnor as a precautionary measure.

Superintendent of Police Dharamveer Singh said All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen district chief Abdullah along with one Iftekhar, Mahroof and Akil were arrested for inciting communal hatred.

According to police, the accused called a gathering near Purani Musfi area in Bijnor.

IMAGE: Brick-bats lie on the road as police personnel attempt to disperse protestors in Prayagraj. Photograph: PTI Photo

The arrests were made on the complaint of people from the Muslim community, the SP said.

People demanded action against the BJP leader and waved banners with 'Arrest Nupur Sharma' written on them in Rampur and Moradabad.

In Kanpur, which was the epicentre of communal violence last week, the Friday prayers were held in a peaceful manner with no reports of any untoward incident.

The prayers were held in a watertight security vigil by police personnel.

A heavy police force was deployed in the area with senior police and administrative officials present on the spot.

IMAGE: Security personnel stand guard during a protest after the Friday prayers at Tile Wali Masjid, in Lucknow. Photograph: PTI Photo

This comes following clashes last week in Kanpur over the remarks on the Prophet at a TV debate some days earlier. A high alert was issued across the state after that, and a heavy police force was deployed to ensure that violence does not occur again.

Rajasthan

Protests were held in Rajasthan's Tonk and Sikar districts.

In a memorandum submitted to the district administration, Tonk Muslim Alliance demanded action against Sharma and Jindal.

A similar memorandum was submitted to the administration in Sikar district.

"This protest is not of any one party or organisation, it is of all the Muslims. There are people from every party in it. We demand action against Sharma," said Ifran, state coordinator of Congress' minority wing, in Tonk. 

Jharkhand

Some policemen were injured while trying to control demonstrators near Hanuman Temple situated on Ranchi's Main Road.

Police fired in air and resorted to baton charge to control the protesters who spilled out on the road after the Friday prayers and pelted stones and shouted slogans.

IMAGE: Protestors throw stones on police in Ranchi. Photograph: PTI Photo

Police officials said the protests were continuing since morning and picked up tempo post-Friday prayers.

Many shops and establishments kept their shutters down in protest against the controversial remarks.

Jammu and Kashmir

Tension mounted in Jammu's Bhaderwah and some areas of Kishtwar prompting authorities to impose curfew while parts of Kashmir observed a shutdown.

Internet services were snapped in the Bhaderwah and Kishtwar towns and Srinagar city of Kashmir as a precautionary measure. Mobile Internet was also suspended in parts of Kashmir, officials said.

IMAGE: People stage a protest at Bhaderwah in Doda district. Photograph: PTI Photo

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.

In Srinagar, protests were held at Lal Chowk, Batamaloo, Tengpora and other places with the demonstrators holding placards.

Maharashtra

Members of the Muslim community staged protests in several cities of Maharashtra though no untoward incident was reported from anywhere.

The protests were staged by various organisations following the Friday prayers after 3 pm, a police official said.

IMAGE: Members of All India Maulayi Mission protest outside Ashrafiya Jama Masjid, in Mumbai. Photograph: PTI Photo

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

A delegation submitted a memorandum to Panvel tehsildar and the protest was over peacefully by 4 pm, said a local police official.

A protest was also held at Shivaji Chowk in Vashi, where a delegation submitted their demands to the Vashi Police Station, he said.

Similar protest gatherings or marches were also held in Thane, Aurangabad, Solapur, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Beed, Latur, Bhandara, Chandrapur and Pune districts.

IMAGE: Muslims stage a protest after offering Friday prayers at a ground in Muslim Naka, in Old Panvel. Photograph: PTI Photo

Everywhere, protestors shouted slogans and demanded registration of FIRs and arrest of Sharma and Jindal, police said.

Heavy police security was deployed at all protest venues but there was no untoward incident anywhere, officials said.

State home minister Dilip Walse-Patil said the protests passed off peacefully as police handled the situation well.

Nobody should offend other people's faith, he said.

IMAGE: Protest after Friday prayers in Moradabad. Photograph: PTI Photo

Bihar

Processions were taken out, after the Friday namaaz, in Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur and Nawada districts where the protestors blocked roads for several hours, police said.

In Arrah, the town where Bhojpur is headquartered, slogans were raised in the vicinity of Badi Masjid, demanding the arrest of Sharma and Jindal.

According to Town police station in-charge Ram Vilas Chaudhary, the protesters, who marched from Badi Masjid to Gopali Chowk, did not indulge in violence but raised 'inflammatory slogans with religious overtones', which triggered tension in the area, prompting many shopkeepers to down their shutters.

No FIR was lodged nor was any arrest made, he added.

IMAGE: Members of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) stage a protest in Patna. Photograph: PTI Photo

In communally-sensitive Nawada, a large number of youngsters staged a demonstration at the Sadbhavana Chowk in the district headquarter town after the namaaz.

They stood there for some time, raising slogans denouncing Sharma and Jindal and demanding their immediate arrest and proceeded towards the highway.

On National Highway 31, they placed burning tyres on the road, disrupting traffic on the busy Patna-Ranchi route on which a long queue of vehicles could be seen.

The protests were withdrawn after a couple of hours, when the protesters were persuaded to allow resumption of traffic by a police team, led by Sub Divisional Police Officer, Sadar, Upendra Prasad.

IMAGE: People belonging to Muslim community, holding placards, stage a protest, after the Friday prayers at Jama Masjid, in New Delhi. Photograph: PTI Photo

North of the Ganges, protests were reported from Muzaffarpur where demonstrators converged at the Pakki Sarai Chowk after the namaaz, and proceeded towards NH 28, raising slogans and carrying posters and banners.

Their demonstration led to a huge traffic snarl on the road connecting the north Bihar town to adjacent Samastipur.

A police team led by Afghan Ali, sub-inspector in-charge of Maniyari police station, spoke to the protesters, some of whom claimed there was a call for 'Bihar bandh'.

One of the protesters, Osama Ali, claimed that messages with regard to 'Bihar bandh' were posted on the social media by 'leaders of our community'.

Gujarat

Members of the Muslim community held protests in some areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara cities on Friday.

IMAGE: People from the Muslim community shout slogans during their protest in Ahmedabad. Photograph: PTI Photo

Shops and markets in Muslim-dominated Dariyapur and Karanj areas in Ahmedabad remained shut as part of the protest.

In Dariyapur, several Muslim men and teenagers gathered on the main road with placards proclaiming love for Prophet Mohammad and demanding the arrest of Sharma.

They said Sharma, and others who make such statements, must be charged under provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Former councillor Hasan Khan Pathan said Sharma's remarks had hurt Muslims across the world but the government was yet to take any action against her.

"There was no bandh call from any Muslim outfit today, but people voluntarily shut their shops out of anger, and many have come out on the streets to protest," Pathan told reporters.

Police officials said shops in most parts of the old city remained open and the day went off normally in other Muslim-dominated areas, such as Kalupur.

IMAGE: Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel assist an injured cop during protest at Atala area in Prayagraj. Photograph: PTI Photo

"Almost 80 per cent shops in Kalupur were open. Our teams are patrolling the area. There have been no incidents of any unrest during the day," said Zone III Deputy Commissioner of Police Sushil Agraval.

In Gorwa area of Vadodara city, protesters gathered near a road and shouted slogans against Sharma.

West Bengal

Hundreds of protesters on Friday blocked roads in different parts of Howrah district in West Bengal over controversial remarks of Sharma and Jindal, police said.

The agitators clashed with police personnel at Dhulagarh, Panchla and Uluberia when they tried to lift the blockade on National Highway-6, a police officer said.

IMAGE: People belonging to Muslim community stage a protest near Park Circus in Kolkata. Photograph: PTI Photo

"The two saffron party leaders should be immediately arrested for their remarks that have hurt religious sentiments," one of the protesters said.

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, the officer 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.

IMAGE: Flames and smoke rise from a vehicle on fire, that was allegedly set ablaze by miscreants during a protest in Howrah. Photograph: PTI Photo

Bengal Imams Association president Md Yahia said it had called for protests inside mosques across the state, demanding the arrest of the two BJP leaders, but asserted that the administration is free to take action against people who are blocking roads and inconveniencing the public.

Meanwhile, a complaint was filed at a court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar against Sharma, Jindal and religious leader Swami Yati Narsinghanand by a social activist against their inflammatory statements.

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

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