Indian police step up arrests over religious unrest over anti-Islam remarks


Indian Kashmir police have arrested a youth for posting a video threatening to behead a former spokesman for India’s ruling party who made derogatory remarks about Islam’s religious leader, the Prophet Muhammad, officials said Sunday.

The video, posted on YouTube, was taken down by authorities as part of a broader attempt to curb religious unrest that has spread across the country.

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Muslims have taken to the streets to protest anti-Islamic comments made by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last week.

Earlier this month, the BJP suspended its spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled another leader, Naveen Kumar Jindal, over his controversial comments on the Prophet’s private life which also angered several Muslim countries, sparking a enormous diplomatic challenge for the Modigovernment.

Police charges have been filed against the two former BJP officials.

On Sunday, Jindal said on Twitter that his family faced continued threats, and some of his followers tweeted that a crude bomb had been defused near his residence in the capital New Delhi.

Outrage over Sharma and Jindal’s comments has spilled over to Twitter, with Muslim groups demanding the arrest of the two, while some hardline Hindu groups call the two officials brave and nationalistic politicians.

Countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Iran, which are key trading partners for India, protested through diplomatic channels and used social media to demand an apology from the government. .

India’s Foreign Ministry said last week that the tweets and comments did not reflect the views of the government.

Clashes over the remarks have simmered across the country as some in the minority Muslim community see them as the latest example of pressure and humiliation under BJP rule on issues ranging from freedom of worship to wearing hijab headscarf.

Two teenagers were killed when protesters clashed with police in the eastern town of Ranchi last week.

Sporadic riots in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh have forced police to arrest more than 300 people.

In the eastern state of West Bengal, authorities enforced an emergency law banning public gatherings in the industrial district of Howrah until June 16. At least 70 people have been arrested for rioting and disturbing public order, with internet services suspended for more than 48 hours after the latest communal violence.

The BJP chairman in West Bengal staged a sit-in protest on Sunday and accused Bangladesh of inciting recent violence in the state. West Bengal shares a long open border with Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, whose constitution designates Islam as the state religion, also upholds the principle of secularism. Hindus make up about 10% of the country’s population.

BJP leaders have instructed several senior officials to be “extremely careful” when discussing religion on public platforms and the government continues to step up public safety.

Read more:

Saudi Arabia condemns Indian officials’ comments insulting Prophet Muhammad

India’s ruling party urges caution on religious issues after Islamic nations protest

India’s ruling party suspends official for comments on Islam

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