Protests over Prophet remark: 2 dead in Ranchi, Howrah simmers, cops take action against protesters in UP
New Delhi, Jun 11: Two persons succumbed to gunshot wounds in Jharkhand capital Ranchi and fresh violence broke out in West Bengal's Howrah on Saturday as tension prevailed in several parts of the country a day after the riotous protests against the controversial remarks by BJP's now-sacked two functionaries on Prophet Mohammad.
Authorities suspended the Internet and tightened security in the affected districts as they cracked down on protesters allegedly involved in the violence and clashes with police personnel, with over 250 people arrested in Uttar Pradesh alone.
Cases have been also registered in Delhi, Maharashtra and other states where people held massive protests after Friday prayers demanding the arrest of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal.
While a bandh was observed on Saturday in the Jharkhand capital on a call by Hindu outfits against the violence, around 2,500 police personnel were deployed and the internet was suspended in the district.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren formed a two-member committee, comprising senior IAS officer Amitabh Kaushal and Additional Director General of Police Sanjay Latkar to investigate the violence that left two persons dead and at least 24 people injured, a senior official told PTI.
The committee has been asked to submit its report to the state government in a week, he said.
Mohammad Mudassir Kaifi (22), who had gunshot wounds on his head, and 24-year-old Mohammad Sahil, with bullet injuries on neck, died during treatment, an official of state-run Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences said in Ranchi.
''Both were residents of Ranchi,'' he said, adding that eight others are in the ICU.
Ranchi's Deputy Inspector General Anish Gupta said a Special Investigation Team has also been set up to probe the incident. ''Three FIRs have been lodged so far. Search operations are on to arrest the persons involved in the violence,'' he said.
Delhi Police registered a case in connection with Friday's protest outside Jama Masjid and under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and further investigation is underway, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Shweta Chauhan said.
Fresh violence was reported in the Panchla Bazaar area in West Bengal's Howrah district as protesters clashed with the police, set ablaze several houses and also vandalised a BJP party office.
Protests had erupted in several parts of Howrah district on Friday with people indulging in stone-pelting, setting police vehicles on fire and damaging public property.
Internet services have been suspended across the district till June 13 and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC imposed in several areas such as Uluberia, Domjur and Panchla till June 15.
On Saturday, authorities suspended internet services in parts of Murshidabad district also till June 14.
The West Bengal government effected a police reshuffle in Howrah district, appointing Praveen Tripathi, Additional CP of Kolkata Police, the new Commissioner of Police of Howrah City and other officers, after an emergency meeting at the state secretariat.
BJP's West Bengal unit president Sukanta Majumdar was arrested on Saturday afternoon near the toll plaza on Vidyasagar Setu when he was on the way to violence-hit Howrah district, folowing which the party protested in several districts. ''His visit could have created a law and order situation. This is a preventive arrest,'' a senior police officer told PTI.
Majumdar, the MP of Balurghat in Uttar Dinajpur, said the situation in West Bengal was fast turning into that in Kashmir.
Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim demanded the arrest of Sharma. Nupur Sharma was suspended by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while another leader, Naveen Jindal, was expelled over their controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad amid an intense backlash from several Islamic countries and calls for a boycott of Indian products. There have been protests in many Indian cities as well, while multiple FIRs have been registered against Sharma.
Sharma was on Saturday summoned by Mumbai Police to record her statement on June 25 in connection with a First Information Report (FIR) at Pydhonie police station. She was earlier summoned by neighbouring Thane police to record statement on June 22.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi accused the BJP of not taking timely action against Sharma. He said that nobody should indulge in violence over the issue and police should also not take the law into their hands.
''The BJP's action of suspending her for violating the party's constitution did not resolve the issue, and one should also think of the Indian Constitution,'' the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief said.
Union minister Ramdas Athawale appealed to people, especially Muslims, to maintain peace and said the government and police are keeping an eye on those trying to trigger communal violence in the country.
''The BJP has already taken action against the two leaders and therefore, there is no need for an agitation. People need to maintain calm,'' the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment said in Jammu.
In Jammu and Kashmir, a Kashmiri YouTuber was arrested in Srinagar on charges of breaching public tranquillity and causing fear in the public after he posted a video depicting the beheading of Nupur Sharma on social media platforms.
Faisal Wani had deleted the video and apologised for it as well. Before his arrest, he posted another video in which he claimed he did not have any intention of hurting the sentiments of people or any religion.
Curfew remained imposed in parts of Chenab valley in Jammu after violent protests, while a day-long shutdown was called by some Muslim bodies.
Broadband and mobile internet services remained suspended in several areas, including Bhaderwah and Kishtwar towns, as a precautionary measure.
Reports from the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Peer Panchal region of Jammu said a peaceful shutdown was observed there.
Uttar Pradesh police said it had arrested 255 people from various districts. In Saharanpur and Prayagraj, police officials said action will be taken against those arrested under the stringent National Security Act.
Among those arrested, 68 were held in Prayagraj and 64 in Saharanpur and 50 in Hathras, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said in a statement on Saturday evening. He said 28 people were arrested in Ambedkarnagar, 27 in Moradabad, 13 in Firozabad, and three in Aligarh and two in Jalaun.
The ADG said, a total of 13 FIRs have been lodged in connection with Friday's protests -- three each in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, and one each in Firozabad, Aligarh, Hathras, Moradabad, Ambedkarnagar, Kheri and Jalaun.
UP Chief Minister Adityanath, who has often spoken of how under his rule the state has been rid of frequent riots, issued a stern warning saying ''no innocent should be harassed, but not a single guilty should be spared''.
In Saharanpur, civic bodies had begun demolishing the alleged illegal properties of two of the accused identified through CCTV footage.
Asserting that protesting an ''insult'' to Prophet Mohammad is a constitutional right of Muslims, prominet Muslim outfit Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind said the denial of this right through ''indiscriminate arrests'', police firing and the use of bulldozers was a ''disgrace'' to any democratic government.
However, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) demanded strict action against the perpetrators of the violence and installing of high-resolution cameras "inside and outside" every mosque and madrassa as well as in the Muslim-dominated areas for monitoring of the activities in these places, the outfit's national spokesperson Vinod Bansal said.
In Maharashtra, several cases were registered in connection with Friday's protests.
An FIR registered was registered at Panvel city Police station under section 37 (1) (3), 135 of Maharashtra Police Act (violating prohibitory orders) against the protesters. Cases were also registered at Ganesh Peth Police Station at Nagpur city, City Chowk in Aurangabad city, Shahada in Nandurbar, Kotwali Police Station at Ahmednagar, Sadar Bazar at Jalna and Sadar Bazar at Solapur.
A case had been registered against over 100 demonstrators who staged an agitation in Aurangabad under section 149 (unlawful assembly) and other relevant provisions of the IPC and Motor Vehicles Act, an official from the Begumpura police station said.
BJP's Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur, who has often courted controversies with her remarks, came out in support of Sharma, saying that if anybody insults Hindu deities, then such people would be told the ''truth''.
After Thakur's comments made here on Friday, the opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh sought a clarification from the BJP on its stand.
In the wake of the violent protests, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said he has directed police to take all steps to maintain law and order in the state.