Protests in several parts of country after Friday prayers over Prophet remarks
Protests were held after Friday prayers in Prayagraj, Saharanpur, Lucknow, Deoband and Moradabad of Uttar Pradesh over the same issue. In Ranchi, a curfew was imposed in violent-hit areas.
Protests and sloganeering were held after Friday congregational prayers in several parts of the country, including Delhi, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, Jharkhand capital Ranchi and elsewhere over inflammatory speeches made by now-removed BJP functionaries against Prophet Mohammad.
In Delhi, a massive peaceful protest and sloganeering was held at the Jama Masjid demanding arrest of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. The Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid said no call for protest given by the mosque authorities. The initial protest had lasted for about half an hour, following which the protesters dispersed. They later gathered again.
Protests were also held in Lucknow, Prayagraj, Deoband, Firozabad and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh over the same issue. In Saharanpur, locals staged protest and tried to march towards the Ghantaghar after Friday prayers in the Nawabganj area. Police resorted to baton-charge to disperse the crowd. The situation was tense, but under control at the moment. Police said a total of 136 arrests were made so far in connection with the protests during the day.
In Ranchi, an agitation demanding Sharma's arrest led to stone pelting, following which police baton-charged the protesters. Vehicles were torched and vandalised and stone-pelting occurred, leading to injuries, even among some policemen. Police fired in the air to control the crowd. The incident occurred post Friday prayers near Daily Market, where shopkeepers were observing a day-long bandh over the issue. Later, a curfew was imposed in violence-hit areas.
Violent clashes had erupted a week ago in Kanpur after two groups protested over controversial speeches made by Sharma at a television debate. The remarks have also led to international condemnation. The BJP has suspended Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Jindal over their remarks on the Prophet.
The Delhi Police said legal action would be taken against the protesters as there was no permission for the stir at Jama Masjid. Central District DCP Shweta Chauhan said, “Almost 1,500 people had gathered in Jama Masjid for Friday prayers. After the prayers, nearly 300 people came out and started to protest over inflammatory remarks by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal. Within 10-15 minutes, we managed to bring the situation under control. Protests were done on the street, without any permission so legal action will be taken.”
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath asked police to take strict action against trouble-makers as stone-pelting broke out in various cities in the state. Senior officers were monitoring the situation from police headquarters.
Protests erupted at several places in Srinagar, including Lal Chowk, Batamaloo and Tengpora. Ludhiana’s Shahi Imam said after a protest call by the Ludhiana Jama Masjid, protests were held across Punjab demanding the arrest of the suspended BJP leaders. In Navi Mumbai, women took out a rally against the controversial remarks, while a large number of people carried out a protest march in Solapur.
The Old city of Hyderabad also witnessed massive protests in several areas, including outside Mecca Masjid, over the issue. Police and CRPF were deployed in the area. Agitations were also held in Rajasthan's Tonk and Sawai Madhopur.
In Madhya Pradesh, a group of Muslim leaders handed over memorandato district collectors in Chhindwara and Vidisha demanding police action against Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.
(With inputs from bureaus)