Prophet Muhammad Row: Over 400 Arrested Across India, Situation Remain Tense in Many States
10:30 GMT 13.06.2022 (Updated: 10:44 GMT 19.07.2022)
© AP Photo / Bikas DasIndian Muslims trample an effigy of Nupur Sharma, the spokesperson of governing Hindu nationalist party as they react to the derogatory references to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad in Kolkata, India, Friday, June 10, 2022
© AP Photo / Bikas Das
Last Friday, several Indian states witnessed violence after a BJP spokeswoman, who has now been suspended from the party, caused outrage by her remarks about the Prophet Mohammad that were regarded as "Islamophobic" by Muslims around the world.
More than 400 people have been arrested since Friday throughout various Indian states after thousands of people across the country protested against the "incendiary" comments made by federally ruling BJP's spokeswoman Nupur Sharma, who was later suspended from her position.
On Friday, demonstrations were held in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, West Bengal, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, and Hyderabad.
As of Sunday evening, a total of 304 persons had been arrested in Uttar Pradesh state's eight districts.
In West Bengal state, more than 100 people have been arrested. On Sunday, a local train was vandalised in Bethuadahari town of Nadia District after a protest about the anti-Islamic remarks made by BJP spokeswoman turned violent.
In Jharkand state, nearly 50 people were arrested, and 25 official complaints were lodged against "thousands" of people for the clashes that left two dead and dozens injured on Friday in the state's capital city Ranchi.
The situation remains tense, and security has been stepped up in various parts of the country.
Most of the protesters have been demanding that Sharma, the suspended BJP spokeswoman, be arrested and strict punishment meted out on her.
Protests were violent in all of these states, as demonstrators hurled stones, and set several vehicles, including motorcycles and police vehicles, on fire. Later, police resorted to baton-charges and tear gas in most states.
On 26 May, Sharma, a spokeswoman of India's federally ruling BJP, made controversial remarks about the Prophet Mohammad during a debate on television. Although the party suspended the official on 6 June, her comments caused widespread anger in the country, leading to massive protests on Friday.
More than a dozen Muslim countries have condemned Sharma's remarks.
India's federal government, however, has clarified that "fringe elements made the remarks", and the comment did not reflect the government's view.
Police in New Delhi and Maharashtra have already registered a complaint against Sharma for making objectionable comments against the Prophet Mohammad.