A curfew was imposed and mobile internet services were suspended in Bhaderwah town of Jammu Kashmir’s Doda district on Thursday after communal tension erupted between Hindus and Muslims.
The police also imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits the gathering of more than four people, in the region. A partial shutdown was also reported in parts of Srinagar on Friday, according to PTI.
According to locals, Anjuman-e-Islamia Bhaderwah, a Muslim religious organisation, had called for a shutdown against suspended Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad.
Sharma had made the remarks during a debate on Times Now television channel on May 26. Her remarks led to a massive diplomatic outrage by several Muslim-majority countries against India.
The Muslims in Bhaderwah were also protesting against a Jammu-based journalist who had expressed support for Sharma in a social media post.
“During the protests, one person made an inflammatory speech against Hindus, which in turn triggered protest from them,” a resident of Bhaderwah town told Scroll.in on the condition of anonymity.
While the Hindus in the area demanded action against the speechmaker, communal tension in the area increased when a social media post against Prophet Muhammad went viral. It was made by a local boy.
“That triggered further protests,” the resident said. “Both Muslims and Hindus gathered in their respective areas to protest. The protests continued till late in the night. There were intense protests but no clashes took place as police and CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force] were deployed.”
In Bhaderwah, Muslims and Hindus live on two sides of the town with a bridge acting as a divider between the two communities.
A case has also been registered against the Muslim speechmaker. He was charged under Indian Penal Code Sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), according to PTI.
After the curfew in Bhaderwah, a shutdown was also reported in neighbouring districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban.
Thursday’s incident in Bhaderwah comes days after the town was at the centre of another controversy.
On June 6, the Doda Police had constituted a six-member Special Investigation Team to inquire into the alleged vandalism of a temple in the mountainous Kailash Kund.
The team was constituted after pictures of the alleged vandalism at Lord Vasuki Nag temple, situated 17,400 feet above sea level, had surfaced on social media.
The incident triggered protests by Hindus in the area. Local Muslims also supported the demand for a thorough inquiry into the incident. The investigation into the case is still on.