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2 die as protests flare across India over anti-Muslim comments

| Updated: June 11, 2022 21:06:04


Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a religious and political party, gather as an effigy depicting suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokeswoman Nupur Sharma is carried during a protest against the comments on Prophet Mohammed, in Karachi, Pakistan Jun 10, 2022. Reuters Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a religious and political party, gather as an effigy depicting suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokeswoman Nupur Sharma is carried during a protest against the comments on Prophet Mohammed, in Karachi, Pakistan Jun 10, 2022. Reuters

At least two people have died and 10 others injured in India's Jharkhand as agitated crowds clashed with police during protests over derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad made by two former members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, bdnews24.com reports citing media reports.

Authorities at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi, the state's capital, confirmed the deaths and said the 10 others have been receiving treatment at the hospital, private broadcaster NDTV reports.

On Friday, the authorities put different parts of Ranchi under curfew after protesters confronted police. Police fired blank shots and charged batons as the crowds demanded the arrest of suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma, whose anti-Muslim remarks have kicked up a storm.

City police chief Anshuman Kumar confirmed to NDTV that the two people died of gunshot injuries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has faced a backlash from Muslims at home and abroad, including from a number of Gulf countries, after Nupur and another official from his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) commented in late May and earlier this month on the prophet's private life, Reuters reports.

Nupur has been suspended and the other official has been expelled by the party, but it has failed to calm the anger of the Muslim community in the country.

In West Bengal's Howrah, protesters blocked roads and railway tracks in different parts of the district, prompting calls from the BJP for the deployment of the Indian Army to control the situation.

The agitators clashed with police at Dhulagarh, Panchla and Uluberia when they tried to lift the blockade on a stretch of the national highway, a police officer told NDTV.

The West Bengal government subsequently suspended internet services in Howrah until 6 am on Monday.

Police charged and fired tear gas at protesters in the Uttar Pradesh city of Prayagraj, where broken bricks and stones littered the streets, a video from ANI showed.

The law enforcers arrested 109 people from different districts of Uttar Pradesh for their alleged role in the protests on Friday, Prashant Kumar, a senior Uttar Pradesh police official told Reuters.

Protests in other cities and towns remained peaceful.

In Kashmir, small groups gathered in dozens of locations, some of them chanting slogans against the fired BJP officials.

Authorities in the restive territory, which is also claimed by neighbouring Pakistan, cut off mobile internet connections to forestall any violence, a police official told Reuters

Protesters, including children, marched holding posters of the two BJP officials and called for police to arrest Sharma in Ahmedabad, the main city in Modi's home state of Gujarat.

"So far, no strict action has been taken against Nupur Sharma," protester Mohammad Jabir told Reuters. "She should be arrested as soon as possible."

Sharma was not available for comment. She said last week that she did not intend to hurt anyone's religious feelings.

Police in New Delhi told Reuters on Thursday that they have filed a complaint against Sharma and others for "inciting people on divisive lines" on social media.

The BJP has instructed officials to be "extremely cautious" when talking about religion on public platforms and has said it does not promote insults against any sect or religion.

 

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