Sunday, August 14, 2022

Protests flare across India over anti-Prophet comments

Protests erupted in several parts of the country on Friday against the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad by two now-suspended BJP 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.
Authorities in Jammu clamped curfew in few areas and parts of the Kashmir Valley observed a shutdown while prohibitory orders were imposed in parts of Ranchi as slogan shouting protesters carrying placards demanded the arrest of Nupur Sharma, a former BJP spokesperson, and Naveen Jindal, a former head of the Delhi BJP’s media unit.
Most of the protests including at the historic Jama Masjid in Delhi broke out after the Friday prayers and several arrests were also made by the police.
Hundreds of protesters massed outside Jama Masjid and some of them gathered on the steps of the mosque. However, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, distanced himself from the protests saying “nobody knows who the protesters were” and demanded action against such people.
Senior police officials said the protests were held peacefully and lasted for 15 to 20 minutes.
In Uttar Pradesh, stones were pelted at policemen in Prayagraj and Saharanpur during the protests which were also witnessed in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow.
In Prayagraj, some motorcycles and carts were set on fire and an attempt made to set ablaze a police vehicle, a police official said.
Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse mobs and peace was later restored, the official said, adding that one policeman was hurt in Prayagraj. In Saharanpur, protesters demanded death sentence for Nupur Sharma.
Prohibitory orders were imposed in parts of Jharkhand capital Ranchi after some policemen and others were injured while trying to control an irate mob near Hanuman temple on the city’s Main Road, an official said.
Police fired in the air besides resorting to lathi-charge to control the mob which spilled out on the road after Friday prayers in a mosque located close by. The protesters shouted slogans and pelted policemen with stones.
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 Bhaderwah and Kishtwar towns and Srinagar city as a precautionary measure. Mobile Internet was also suspended in parts of Kashmir, an official said.
In Srinagar, protests were held at Lal Chowk, Batamaloo, Tengpora and other places with the demonstrators holding placards.
Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh appealed to people to behave responsibly and not get misled by provocation besides maintaining communal harmony.
Hundreds of protesters blocked roads in different parts of Howrah district in West Bengal. Some agitators clashed with personnel at Dhulagarh, Panchla and Uluberia when they tried to lift the blockade on National Highway-6.
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, police 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, adding four trains were cancelled, while two were diverted due to the agitation.
In Gujarat, protests were held in some areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Shops and markets in Muslim-dominated Dariyapur and Karanj areas in Ahmedabad remained shut while in Dariyapur, several men and teenagers gathered on a main road with placards.
Protests were staged in several cities of Maharashtra though no untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
In Panvel city in Navi Mumbai, at least 3,000 protesters including around 1,000 women took out a march, demanding the arrest of Sharma and Jindal.
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, Solapur, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Beed, Latur, Bhandara, Chandrapur and Pune.
Protesters in Hyderabad were seen holding placards that read “Arrest Nupur Sharma.”
Several students of Jamia Millia Islamia staged a demonstration on the varsity campus in Delhi and demanded arrest of Sharma.

Policemen chase away protestors in Ranchi. (PTI)
Miscreants throw stones at police during the protest in Ranchi on Friday. (PTI)

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