New Delhi/Srinagar, June 10
Protests erupted in some states on Friday, including outside Delhi’s Jama Masjid, over controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammad by two now-suspended BJP officials with protesters in Jharkhand injuring some police officers, while Jammu authorities have imposed a curfew in some areas and parts. of Kashmir observed a shutdown.
In some places, demonstrators threw stones at the police, prompting the latter to charge them with batons and use tear gas canisters.
In Delhi, protesters gathered outside the historic Jama Masjid after Friday prayers to demand 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 Delhi’s BJP media unit.
Senior police officials said the protest was peaceful and lasted 15 to 20 minutes. The protesters were then dispersed out of the area.
Several Jamia Millia Islamia students staged a protest on the university campus here and demanded Sharma’s arrest. They waved slogans and held up signs that read: “Blasphemy is the innate language of the RSS, save India from it, stop Nupur Sharma” and “Stop attacking Muslims”.
In Jhankhand, police officers were injured while trying to control protesters near the Hanuman Temple located on the main road in Ranchi. Police fired into the air and used batons to control protesters who poured into the road after Friday prayers, threw rocks and shouted slogans.
Police officials said the protests had been continuing since morning and had taken on the rhythm of prayers after Friday. Many shops and establishments closed their shutters to protest the controversial remarks.
Tension has risen in Jammu’s Bhaderwah and parts of Kishtwar, prompting authorities to impose a curfew, while parts of Kashmir observed a lockdown.
Internet services were cut in the cities of Bhaderwah and Kishtwar and in the city of Srinagar in Kashmir as a precautionary measure. Mobile internet has also been suspended in parts of Kashmir, officials said.
Sporadic stone-throwing incidents were reported in the town of Bhaderwah. Some people, violating the restrictions, took to the streets and threw stones at the security forces while brandishing slogans.
In Srinagar, protests took place in Lal Chowk, Batamaloo, Tengpora and other places with protesters holding signs.
Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh said efforts were being made to defuse tension in Bhaderwah town and called on people to behave responsibly and not be misled by provocation in addition to maintaining community harmony.
He said the curfew was imposed as a precautionary measure to keep the peace.
Protests have also erupted in several places in Uttar Pradesh with police being pelted with stones by residents of Prayagraj and Saharanpur after Friday prayers.
In Prayagraj, motorbikes and carts were torched and an attempt was made to torch a police vehicle.
Police used tear gas and batons to disperse protesters and peace was later restored, officials said, adding that a police officer was injured in Prayagraj.
There were slogans shouting against Sharma. In Saharanpur, protesters demanded the death penalty against her.
Demonstrations also took place in Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur and Lucknow. Slogans took place in Lucknow.
Hundreds of protesters blocked roads in different parts of Howrah district in West Bengal. Some agitators clashed with staff in Dhulagarh, Panchla and Uluberia when they tried to lift the blockade on National Road 6.
Police had to launch a charge to disperse crowds in Dhulagarh and Panchla, where protesters threw rocks in retaliation, causing damage to nearby cars, police said.
Protesters also blocked the train tracks between Fuleswar and Chengail railway stations in the Howrah-Kharagpur section from 1:22 p.m., a South Eastern Railway official said.
In Gujarat, protests took place in parts of Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Shops and markets in the Muslim-majority neighborhoods of Dariyapur and Karanj in Ahmedabad remained closed while in Dariyapur, several men and teenagers gathered on a main road with placards proclaiming love for the Prophet and demanding the Sharma’s arrest.
They said Sharma, and others who make such statements, should be charged under the provisions of the strict Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Police officials said shops in most parts of the Old City remained open and the day went on as normal in other Muslim-majority areas, such as Kalupur.
Members of the Muslim community staged protests in several cities in Maharashtra, although no untoward incidents were reported out of nowhere.
In the town of Panvel in Navi Mumbai, at least 3,000 demonstrators, including around 1,000 women, staged a protest march, demanding the arrest of Sharma and Jindal.
A delegation submitted a memorandum to Panvel tehsildar and the protest ended peacefully at 4 p.m., a local police official said.
A protest also took place at Shivaji Chowk in Vashi, where a delegation submitted their demands to the Vashi police station. Similar rallies or protest marches were held in Thane, Aurangabad, Solapur, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Beed, Latur, Bhandara, Chandrapur and Pune.
Meanwhile, a case has been filed in a court in Muzaffarpur in Bihar against Sharma, Jindal and religious leader Swami Yati Narsinghanand by a social activist.
The BJP on Sunday suspended Sharma and Jindal after their derogatory comments about the Prophet caused furor, including in the Arab world.