The United States on Thursday castigated the disparaging remarks made by two Bharatiya Janata Party spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal about Prophet Muhammad.
“We condemn the offensive comments made by two BJP officials,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press conference. “We were glad to see that the party publicly condemned those comments.”
Sharma made controversial remarks about the Prophet during a debate on the Times Now television channel on May 26. While, Jindal, who was the media head of the party’s Delhi unit, had posted a tweet on June 1 about the Prophet, which he later deleted.
On June 5, the BJP suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal after a diplomatic backlash from many Muslim-majority countries. On the same day, the Centre had said that the controversial comments had been made by “fringe elements” and they did not reflect the views of the Indian government.
Protests also broke out in several parts of India against the comments. The demonstrations turned violent in some places leading to the arrest of hundreds of protestors.
Uttar Pradesh has demolished the houses of those who allegedly took part in these protests. While there are no provisions under Indian law to demolish the home of anyone accused of a crime, this pattern has been regularly observed across BJP-ruled states.
A video of alleged protestors being beaten up by an officer inside a police station in Uttar Pradesh’s Sarhanpur also went viral on social media on June 11. An investigation has been ordered into the matter.
During Thursday’s briefing, Price said that the United States encourages India to promote human rights.
“We regularly engage with the Indian government at senior levels on human rights concerns, including freedom of religion or belief,” he said.