Protests erupting in several parts of the country, including Delhi, after Friday prayers at mosques raises a bigger question on security — is there a bigger conspiracy or an outfit behind it? While sources or government officials haven’t told News18 specifically on the nationwide stir, but raises concern as it comes two days after a letter was circulated that warned of Islamist militant attacks to avenge derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammad by suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.
The Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), in a letter dated June 6, warned of suicide bombings in Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. The threat reflected on AQ’s official website stated: “Saffron terrorists should now await their end in Delhi, Bombay, UP and Gujarat. They should find refuge neither in their homes nor in their fortified army cantonments.” This is the first time Al-Qaeda has come out with names of specific cities.
Sharma’s comments has led to global outrage with many Arab countries raising the issue with the Indian government. The BJP had on Sunday suspended her pending an inquiry and ousted BJP Delhi media in-charge Naveen Kumar Jindal from the party altogether. Both Sharma and Jindal apologised for their inflammatory comments later.
Where All Protests Took Place on Friday:
Delhi: In the national capital, the protest took place outside the Jama Masjid. A senior police officer said that while some of the demonstrators left the site after some time, others continued to protest.
Shahi Imam Bukhari of Jama Masjid has told CNN-News18 that there was no call to protests from the Masjid committee and demonstrations erupted suddenly. “We need to maintain peace. This was a sudden protest. Slogans were raised. Those behind the protest are not known yet. There was no call of protests by Jama Masjid,” he said.
Delhi Police said some of the miscreants behind the Jama Masjid protest have been identified. “There will be legal action against those behind the protest,” the police said.
Speaking to News18, Minister of State for Law SP Baghel said that the “protests are not justified” and that they are a part of a “criminal conspiracy”. He also said the Shahi Imam’s statement about their alleged lack of involvement in the protest is “not correct”.
Uttar Pradesh: Protests were reported in Prayagraj, Lucknow, Saharanpur, Deoband, Firozabad, Hathras, and Moradabad, among a few others. The protesters raised slogans, tried to burn an effigy of Nupur Sharma and demanded her immediate arrest.
The mob torched a PAC truck in Prayagraj’s Atala area and threw stones. Local reports stated that the police fired rubber bullets to disperse the protestors, and that Additional Director General of Police Prem Prakash was injured in the stone-pelting. Large-scale protests were also reported from Deoband, the home to the prestigious Islamic seminary Darul Uloom.
Shops and business establishment remained closed in Muslim-dominated localities across the state. Prashant Kumar, ADG Law and Order, said that a total of 136 accused have been arrested till now — 45 from Saharanpur, 37 from Prayagraj, 20 from Hathras, seven from Moradabad, four from Ferozabad and 23 from Ambedkarnagar.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has sought a report from the home department regarding the violent protests. He also directed the police to identify the protestors and take stern action against them.
Kashmir: In Srinagar, a “spontaneous shutdown” was called by “unknown persons” protesting against Nupur Sharma’s remarks and, apart from the Raj Bagh area, all markets observed a voluntary shutdown. Local internet, including prepaid and postpaid connections, was also completely shut down.
Karnataka: Miscreants hanged an effigy of Sharma from an electric wire resembling a public execution near a mosque on Fort Road in Belagavi, police said. As the issue triggered a public outrage, police along with the city municipal corporation removed it quickly, they added.
The police have registered a case against unknown miscreants for spreading enmity between communities and disturbing peace in the society.
Vadodara and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, too, saw protests. According to news reports, shops and businesses in certain areas of the city remained shut. Organisations belonging to the minority community also protested in Punjab. News channels flashed visuals of demonstrations outside the Jama Masjid in Ludhiana. Telangana and Maharashtra witnessed similar scenes of sloganeering and demonstration demanding Sharma’s arrest.
In West Bengal, protesters clashed with police, who tried to remove road blocks and opened lathi-charged on them, in Uluberia in Howrah district. Sources told News18 that internet has been suspended in Howrah district till 6 am on June 13 as a BJP office was reportedly set on fire amid protests.
A curfew was imposed in parts of Jharkhand’s capital, Ranchi, after several policemen were reportedly injured while trying to control a violent mob. According to news reports, police lathi-charged the mob after they pelted security personnel with stones.
The protests took place on a day when voting for the Rajya Sabha polls took place, for 16 seats across four states — Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
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