Offensive remarks hurting religious sentiments|Protests in several states; shutdown in parts of Kashmir, curfew in Jammu areas

Offensive remarks hurting religious sentiments|Protests in several states; shutdown in parts of Kashmir, curfew in Jammu areas
Photo: Aman Farooq/GK

New Delhi/Srinagar, June 10: Protests broke out in some states on Friday including outside Delhi's Jama Masjid over the controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad (SAW) by two now-suspended BJP functionaries with demonstrators in Jharkhand injuring a few policemen while authorities in Jammu imposed a curfew in few areas and parts of Kashmir observed a shutdown.

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

Some of the people, who gathered on the steps of the mosque, carried placards and shouted slogans against Sharma and Naveen Jindal, former head of the Delhi BJP's media unit.

Senior police officials said the protest was held peacefully and lasted for 15 to 20 minutes. The protesters were later dispersed from the area.

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

Police officials said the protests had been continuing since morning and picked up tempo post-Friday prayers. Many shops and establishments kept their shutters down in protest against the controversial remarks.

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. It was, however, restored in Srinagar city late this evening.

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 Ramban district, strict restrictions under Section 144 CrPC were enforced. In Srinagar, protests were held at Lal Chowk, Batamaloo, Tengpora and other places with the demonstrators holding placards.

Protests also broke out at several places in Uttar Pradesh with sloganeering taking place in Saharanpur, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow. In the Atala area of Prayagraj, people raised slogans and pelted stones after the Friday prayers ended.

Members of the Muslim community staged protests in several cities of Maharashtra though no untoward incident was reported from anywhere. 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. Similar protest gatherings or marches were held in Thane, Aurangabad, Solapur, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Beed, Latur, Bhandara, Chandrapur and Pune districts.

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 Muhammad (SAW) after they stoked a furore including in the Arab world.

Meanwhile Srinagar city observed a shutdown on Friday, to denounce controversial remarks by two now- suspended BJP leaders against Prophet Muhammad (SAW) while extra security forces were deployed to maintain prevailing peace.

The shutdown was almost peaceful and authorities in the morning snapped the internet as a precautionary measure to prevent rumour mongering. “It was a peaceful day in the valley,” police said here. Internet services in Srinagar city were restored later in the evening.

In Kashmir, security forces were deployed in strength at sensitive places of Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley for maintaining law and order.

To quell any sort of protests, security forces were deployed around the main mosques. The imams condemned the controversial remarks and at the same time appealed to the people to maintain brotherhood and peace.

Shops and other business establishments remained shut in Lal Chowk and other parts of the city. The traffic was disrupted.

The old Srinagar city or Downtown Srinagar witnessed a complete shutdown with public transport remaining off the roads. However, traffic was plying in Lal Chowk, Batamaloo and adjoining areas with offices and schools remaining open.

At some places people held peaceful protests. Peaceful protests were reported from Batamaloo, Fateh Kadal, and Tangpora areas of the city. The protesters termed the remarks unacceptable and said they could not tolerate derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad (SAW). They demanded that the accused should be dealt with under stringent law. “Nobody has a right to hurt the sentiments of over two million people,” the protestors said.

Office bearers of All Traders joint Coordination Committee while holding peaceful protest said that comments on Prophet Muhammad (SAW) were unacceptable.

Most parts of Ramban district, particularly town, also observed complete shutdown.

Though the curfew was not imposed, yet the district administration, not taking any chances, strictly enforced restrictions under Section 144 CrPC.

Even Friday prayers in main mosques were not allowed, apprehending law and order problems. Only in the morning restrictions were eased a bit to bid adieu to Hajj pilgrims. The district administration had made foolproof security arrangements so as to avert any law and order problem. No protests were allowed anywhere in the district. Cellular internet services too remained snapped.

However, the shutdown had no impact on Srinagar Jammu National Highway where the traffic plied as usual.

Similarly Kishtwar district too remained under stringent restrictions throughout the day.

After Friday prayers, the protests erupted outside Talab Khatikan Masjid in Jammu also, however, after some time the protesters dispersed peacefully.

(WITH INPUTS FROM SHABIR IBN YUSUF, M M PARVAIZ in Ramban)

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