INDIA. MUMBAI: The protest demonstrations were held across the country over suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s alleged derogatory remarks against the prophet in a recent TV show, with agitators indulging in violence on Friday.
The demonstrations began after Friday prayers and spilled on the streets of Delhi, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand.
In Howrah, West Bengal, the protesters burnt tires, pelted stones, and raised slogans on National Highway 116. Several vehicles were stuck on the highway for over four hours. The protesters created a ruckus bringing traffic on the road to a near-halt.
The protestors, dressed in skull caps and lungi, yelled Islamist slogans. Dark smoke could be seen engulfing the skies in videos that surfaced on social media.
The protest demonstrators were held despite an appeal by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Earlier in the day, Banerjee said that these remarks led to the spread of violence and division of the (secular) fabric of the country. With agitators indulging in stone-pelting in Howrah, the police burst tear gas shells to quell the mob.
In Delhi, there were massive demonstrations outside gate no.1 at Jama Masjid with agitators carrying Islamic flags. The demonstrators outside Jama Masjid demanded legal action against Nupur Sharma, saying why the Union Government should wait till other Islamic countries registered the protests.
Speaking to the Transcontinental Times, Shahu Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari said that no call for any such agitation was given, and it appeared to be a spontaneous reaction against objectionable remarks against the prophet. There was a demand to keep the Delhi market closed, but I had instructed against doing so. He added that the “Hindu-Muslim” hate movement should be buried altogether since it affects one and all.
In Uttar Pradesh, the demonstrations were held at many places, including Saharanpur, Moradabad, Kanpur, and Prayagraj. The protestors attempted to set afire a police vehicle in Prayagraj. The agitators also forcibly shut down a few shops in the vicinity. Eventually, the police took into custody 21 protestors in Saharanpur.
A curfew (section 144 of CrPC) was imposed in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, after the agitators became violent near Iqra Masjid and pelted stones at police personnel, including an SSP, who got injured.
In Maharashtra, the agitations were held in Solapur and Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum in Mumbai. The agitations were held in Ahmedabad with agitators carrying play cards denouncing Nupur Sharma. In Punjab, the agitations were held in Ludhiana. Similar demonstrations were also held in Hyderabad (Telangana).