Prophet remarks row: India police book BJP’s Nupur Sharma, others

After Muhammad Prophet made disparaging remarks, there was a diplomatic backlash. In response, the governing party’s spokeswoman in India has been suspended, as people believe she incited divisiveness. The New Delhi Police say they have received a complaint against her.

In a recent TV debate, Nupur Sharma, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), made a remark about the Prophet last week, leading to criticism from numerous countries with Muslim-majority populations.

In response to individuals attempting to disturb public peace and provoking individuals towards division, the Delhi Police announced on Thursday that they had initiated two initial complaints – commonly referred to as first information reports or FIRs – based on the analysis of social media.

Twitter stated that the authorities, without explicitly stating which posts caused the complaint and which entities were involved, are related to Ms. Nupur Sharma and the others against several social media organizations.

Prophet remarks
A demonstrator stomps a poster of BJP’s Nupur Sharma during a protest in Mumbai [File: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

The authorities have registered a case against Naveen Kumar Jindal, who was ousted by the party due to his derogatory tweets about Islam, and according to reports from the Indian media, he led the media department of the BJP in New Delhi.

The media has filed FIRs against Saraswati Narsinghanand Yati, a hardline Hindu priest, and Saba Naqvi, a journalist, among others, for spreading hate on social media, according to reports.

Questioning of the accused typically follows the filing of a complaint, which is the first process in any police investigation in India.

“Delhi Police has urged everyone to refrain from posting anything that may disrupt communal and social harmony. Delhi Police has even sent notices to social media intermediaries for the details of those entities/accounts behind #DelhiPolice.”

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Al-Qaeda makes menacing statements: Indian press

Following the circulation of a letter purportedly containing derogatory remarks about Prophet Sharma, security measures were tightened in several cities in India as a warning against retaliatory attacks.

Several Indian media groups shared a letter on June 6th, which attributed threats to carry out suicide bombings in India to AQIS, the Indian subcontinent branch of al-Qaeda, stating it is the duty of the honorable prophet to defend against such acts.

A federal official from the home ministry stated, as reported by Reuters news agency, that intelligence agencies were examining the credibility of the threats issued by AQIS.

A senior home ministry official in New Delhi stated, as reported by Reuters, “We have additionally directed state police to prohibit any public gatherings or demonstrations as they may become the focus of the militant organization.”

India protest
A protester holds India’s national flag during a protest demanding Sharma’s arrest in Kolkata [File: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters]

Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious-cum-political party in Pakistan, has called for a protest march to the Indian embassy in Islamabad later on Thursday, in response to Sharma’s comments, while demands for a boycott of Indian products in Gulf countries have also increased.

The Indian foreign ministry declared on Monday that the offensive comments and posts did not reflect the views of the government in any way.

The right-wing BJP also asked its spokespeople to be “extremely cautious” when talking about religion in TV debates or on public platforms.

The comments that prompted diplomats to be summoned and requested apologies from New Delhi were objected to by leaders of multiple Muslim countries, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, gaining renewed traction in India.

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The Islamic Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a influential member of 57-member Islamic countries, stated that insults came in the context of an increasingly intense atmosphere of hatred towards Islam and systematic harassment of Muslims in India.

The new controversy has become a diplomatic challenge for Modi who in recent years has cemented strong relations with energy-rich Gulf nations.

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