Two demonstrators died and 13 others were injured after protests against the remarks about Prophet Muhammad turned violent in Jharkhand’s Ranchi on Friday, PTI reported.
Police personnel, including Ranchi Senior Superintendent of Police Surendra Kumar Jha, were among those injured.
Protests erupted in several parts of India on Friday against the remarks made by two Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal about the Prophet. On June 5, the BJP had suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal after a diplomatic backlash from many Muslim-majority countries.
Demonstrations took place in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, West Bengal, and Telangana, among other places on Friday. In most cities, including Delhi, Kolkata and Prayagraj, the protests started after Friday prayers.
On Saturday, Ranchi police chief Anshuman Kumar told NDTV that the protestors died of gunshot wounds. He said that injured persons, including the police officers, were being treated.
“We will first identity those involved in the violence, question them and then arrest them,” he added.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said that incident of violence was worrisome, reported ANI.
“Public of Jharkhand have always been very sensitive and tolerant,” Soren said. “I appeal to everyone to refrain from participating in any activities that will lead to more such crimes.”
227 arrested in UP
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh Police said that they have arrested 227 persons from six districts in connection with Friday’s protests, ANI reported.
In Uttar Pradesh, protests broke out in Saharanpur, Moradabad and Prayagraj and other cities. Incidents of protestors throwing stones was also reported from some of these cities, including Prayagraj.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said that 48 protesters were arrested from Saharanpur, 68 from Prayagraj, 28 people from Ambedkar Nagar, 50 from Hathras, 25 from Moradabad and eight from Firozabad.
Prayagraj Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Kumar said that the police have arrested a man identified as Javed Ahmed, who they claimed to be the mastermind behind the violence, according to ANI.
He said action against the accused persons will be taken under Gangster Act and the National Security Act.
Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi said that the situation in Prayagraj is peaceful.
“Minor force was used to stop some people involved in the violence,” Awasthi said, according to PTI. “I would like to appeal to people to use democratic ways of protest without resorting to violence.”
On Friday, Chief Minister Adityanath had held a meeting with top officials regarding the protests. The chief minister’s office said that Adityanath told officials to take stringent action against “anti-social elements” and those who violate the law.
Protests in other cities
In Delhi, a large crowd protested outside the Jama Masjid on Friday. The protestors, carrying placards, shouted slogans against Sharma.
The Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid, however, clarified that the mosque committee did not call for protest, ANI reported.
“We don’t know who are protesting,” the Imam had said. “I think they belong to AIMIM [All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen] or are [Asaduddin] Owaisi’s people. We made it clear that if they want to protest, they can, but we will not support them.”
The Delhi Police said that the protestors left the site within 10-15 minutes.
“Almost 1,500 people had gathered in Jama Masjid for Friday prayers,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Shweta Chauhan had said. “After the prayers, nearly 300 people came out and started to protest over inflammatory remarks by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal.”
Chauhan said that a case was registered against the protestors under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.
Demonstrations were also held in West Bengal’s Howrah and Kolkata, Telangana’s Hyderabad, Punjab’s Ludhiana, Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar and several cities in Maharashtra.
In Navi Mumbai, at least 3,000 residents took out a protest march, demanding that Sharma and Jindal be arrested. Similar demonstrations and marches were also held in Thane, Aurangabad, Solapur, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Beed, Latur, Bhandara, Chandrapur and Pune districts.
In Karnataka’s Belgavi district, Sharma’s effigy was hung from an electric wire near a mosque on Fort Road.
In Howrah, the protestors set several kiosks and vehicles on fire, according to The Indian Express.
In Uleberia and Panchla areas of the district, the local BJP party offices were also set on fire allegedly by the protesters, according to the newspaper.
Internet services have been suspended across the district till June 13, reported PTI.
New Delhi has been trying to contain the fallout of the outrage across the world, saying the controversial comments had been made by “fringe elements” and they did not reflect the views of the Indian government.
On Thursday, the Delhi Police filed a first information report against Sharma, Jindal along with journalist Saba Naqvi and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi for social media posts that allegedly hurt religious sentiments.