Two persons were killed in Ranchi, while 60 people were arrested in connection with fresh violence in West Bengal’s Howrah district on Saturday, a day after large-scale protests over controversial remarks against Prophet Muhammad by two now-expelled BJP spokespersons.
The internet was suspended and security tightened in several affected districts and close to 240 people have been arrested in Uttar Pradesh.
Delhi, Maharashtra and other states, where people staged protests after Friday prayers demanding the arrest of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal, also saw cases being registered.
Hindu outfits called a bandh in Ranchi, even as chief minister Hemant Soren ordered a high-level probe into the violence in the state capital.
Protests also took place in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra), Ludhiana (Punjab), Hyderabad (Telangana) and Jammu and Kashmir.
The protests and its violent aftermath has prompted a political response from parties across the country. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi accused the BJP of not taking timely action against Sharma. He said nobody should indulge in violence over the issue and police should also not take the law into their hands.
Union minister Ramdas Athawale appealed to people, especially Muslims, to maintain peace and said the government and police were “keeping an eye on those trying to trigger communal violence".
Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren has formed a two-member committee, comprising senior IAS officer Amitabh Kaushal and ADGP Sanjay Latkar to probe the deadly violence in Ranchi, while an SIT has also been formed. The committee has been asked to submit a report in a week.
In Ranchi, 22-year-old Mohammad Mudassir Kaifi, who had gunshot wounds on the head, and 24-year-old Mohammad Sahil, with bullet injuries on the neck, died during treatment, as per information from Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences. Officials said eight others were in the ICU.
Ranchi’s DIG Anish Gupta said, “Three FIRs have been lodged so far. Search operations are on to arrest the persons involved in the violence.”
Meanwhile, internet services, which were suspended after the violence had broken out, have been restored in Ranchi.
In fresh violence in Howrah district a day after the protests, 60 people were arrested even as parts of Murshidabad and South 24 Parganas witnessed disturbing incidents. Those arrested were booked under sections pertaining to rioting, attempt to murder and causing damage to public properties, police said.
The state commission for protection of child rights has issued a notice to a cleric, Pirzada of Furfura Sharif, for allegedly using children in violent demonstrations. There is no internet connectivity in Howrah district since Friday, and the clampdown was extended to parts of Murshidabad district on Saturday to be continued till June 14.
Protesters clashed with police at Panchla Bazaar area, where several houses were set on fire, a senior officer said. Cops were pelted with stones, and a BJP party office was vandalised.
The situation in Howrah is on the boil, even as firefighters were pressed into service and police used tear gas shells to bring the situation under control.
In Murshidabad’s Beldanga, a college girl was arrested for allegedly putting up a social media post supporting the views of Sharma on Prophet Muhammad, police said. In Kulpi, protesters attacked MLA Jogaranjan Halder’s vehicle near Amtala, police added.
There will be no internet services in the entire Howrah district till June 13 and Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed in several areas such as Uluberia, Domjur and Panchla till June 15.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said she will take strict action against those who attempt to instigate riots, even as a police reshuffle was effected to bring in officers with tough reputations into areas where violence has been reported. “As I have said before, normal life has been affected by violent incidents in Howrah over the last two days. Some political parties are behind this they want to instigate riots. But this won’t be tolerated and strict action will be taken against those involved. Why should common people suffer because of sin committed by BJP,” Banerjee tweeted in Bengali.
The political tussle over the protests continued as state BJP president Sukanta Majumdar and his supporters were arrested while trying to visit violence-hit Howrah district He and his companions were, however, later released.
Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar expressed concern over the worsening law and order situation in the state and asked Banerjee to deal sternly with lawbreakers.
Police arrested 255 people from various districts even as CM Yogi Adityanath warned of “strictest” action against those attempting to vitiate the atmosphere. In Saharanpur and Prayagraj, police said action will be taken under the stringent National Security Act.
A total of 13 FIRs have been lodged in connection with the protests – three each in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, and one each in Firozabad, Aligarh, Hathras, Moradabad, Ambedkarnagar, Kheri and Jalaun.
“Strictest action will be taken against the anti-social elements involved in the chaotic efforts to spoil the atmosphere in various cities in the past few days,” Adityanath said, adding, “there is no place for such anti-social people in a civilised society. No innocent should be harassed, but not a single guilty should be spared.”
Expelled BJP leader Nupur Sharma has been summoned by Mumbai Police to record her statement on June 25 in connection with an FIR at Pydhonie police station. She was earlier summoned by neighbouring Thane police to record a statement on June 22.
Several cases were registered against protesters, among which was one registered against over 100 in Aurangabad under section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC and Motor Vehicles Act.
JAMMU AND KASHMIR
A Kashmiri YouTuber was arrested in Srinagar on charges of breaching public tranquility and causing fear in the public after he posted a video depicting the beheading of Sharma. Faisal Wani has deleted the video and apologised for it. 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.
Parts of Chenab valley in Jammu were under curfew after violent protests, as Muslim bodies observed a day’s shutdown. Broadband and mobile internet services remained suspended in several areas, including Bhaderwah and Kishtwar towns. A peaceful shutdown was observed in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Peer Panchal region of Jammu.
A case was registered 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. Further investigation is on, said DCP (central) Shweta Chauhan.
(With PTI inputs)