Prophet row: Protests, arrests across several states; internet services suspended
Fresh violence broke out in West Bengal's Howrah on Saturday against the controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad made by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma. Earlier, two persons were killed in Ranchi in police firing during protests after the Friday prayers. Uttar Pradesh also witnessed clashes with over 250 people taken into custody as the internet services were suspended in several places.
- This comes days after Sharma's controversial comments received considerable criticism on social media and from Arab countries.
- Multiple complaints were filed against Sharma as a result of her statements in Maharashtra and Telangana.
- Sharma later apologized and said that she never meant to offend anyone's religious beliefs.
- However, the issue triggered protests and violence in several cities on Friday.
As many as 60 people were arrested in the Howrah district on Saturday and the internet has been suspended till Monday and CrPC Section 144 has been imposed in Uluberia, Domjur, and Panchla till Wednesday. Fresh violence was reported in Howrah's Panchla Bazaar as protesters set ablaze several houses and also vandalized a BJP party office. Murshidabad and South 24 Parganas also witnessed protests.
Calling for the arrest of Nupur Sharma and expelled BJP leader Naveen Kumar Jindal, riotous protests were held in several parts of the country, including Delhi and Maharashtra. A bandh was observed in Ranchi and the internet services were suspended. They were restored on Saturday at midnight. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren ordered an investigation into Friday's violence that left two persons dead.
After massive protests erupted on Friday, cases were registered in Delhi, Maharashtra, and other states. A case was registered by the Delhi Police in connection with Friday's protest outside Jama Masjid and under the Indian Penal Code Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Shweta Chauhan said that further investigation was underway.
The Uttar Pradesh Police arrested 255 people and booked 6,000 others from various districts. The police said action would be taken under the National Security Act in Saharanpur and Prayagraj. Of the 13 FIRs lodged in connection with the Friday's protests, three each were registered in Prayagraj and Saharanpur and one each in Firozabad, Aligarh, Hathras, Moradabad, Ambedkarnagar, Kheri, and Jalaun.
A case was registered against 100 protestors under IPC Section 149 (unlawful assembly) and Motor Vehicles Act in Aurangabad. Other cases were also registered against protestors. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police summoned Sharma to record her statement on June 25 in connection with an FIR at the Pydhonie Police Station. The Thane Police also summoned her to record a statement on June 22.
Protests were also witnessed in Jammu and Kashmir with parts of Jammu's Chenab Valley put under curfew. Internet and broadband services remained suspended in Bhaderwah and Kishtwar, among others. Meanwhile, Kashmiri YouTuber Faisal Wani was arrested for posting a now-deleted video depicting Sharma's beheading. Before his arrest, he posted another video claiming he didn't intend to hurt the sentiments of people or any religion.