Over 400 arrested after Friday protests in several states, more violence in West Bengal, Jharkhand tense

Political parties, including the Samajwadi Party, and activists have accused authorities of high-handedness in the aftermath of the protests. Senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram said the prime minister should have spoken and acted immediately after the offensive utterances.

PTIUpdated: Monday, June 13, 2022, 12:23 AM IST
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Ranchi: Security personnel conduct a flag march to maintain law and order following clashes during protest against now-suspended BJP leaders remarks on Prophet Muhammad, in Ranchi, Sunday, June 12, 2022. | - PTI

Over 400 people have been arrested so far in a clampdown on those involved in the violent protests on Friday in several states against the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad by two now-sacked BJP functionaries, with authorities in Uttar Pradesh razing "illegal" houses of the accused for the second day.

Sporadic incidents of violence and protests were reported including a group of people attacking and damaging a local train at Bethuadahari railway station in West Bengal's Nadia on Sunday evening even as prohibitory orders continued in parts of Howrah and Murshidabad districts.

Among those arrested, 316 were held in eight districts in Uttar Pradesh and 100 in West Bengal, while the Ranchi police registered 25 FIRs against "thousands" of people for the clashes that left two dead and scores of others injured on June 10 in the Jharkhand capital, and security was stepped up in other parts of the state also.

Political parties, including the Samajwadi Party, and activists have accused authorities of high-handedness in the aftermath of the protests. Senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram said the prime minister should have spoken and acted immediately after the offensive utterances.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, however, said that law and order is a state subject and they should take strict action against the rioters.

"There is no place for violence in a democracy. Everybody should get an opportunity to put his point of view in a democracy. And when the problems can be resolved through talks, then there is no place for stone-pelting, arson and unruly behaviour," he said.

Leaders and organisations should not add fuel to the fire, he stressed.

Authorities had strengthened security and imposed restrictions in many districts after people took to the streets following Friday prayers, indulged in stone-pelting and clashed with security personnel, demanding the arrest of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal.

While Sharma was suspended by the BJP and Jindal expelled from the party amid backlash from many Islamic countries, several cases and court complaints continue to be filed against them and also against others in related cases of allegedly hurting religious sentiments in various parts of the country.

The Bhiwandi police in Maharashtra has now summoned Sharma to record a statement on Monday, while Jindal has also been summoned on June 15 in the case registered against them on a complaint lodged by a representative of the Raza Academy on May 30.

Earlier, the police in Thane asked Sharma to appear before them on June 22 while the Mumbai Police had summoned her on June 25.

In Uttar Pradesh, where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has vowed to act tough on rioters, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said 13 cases have been registered and 316 people arrested from eight districts.

"92 people have been arrested in Prayagraj, 79 in Saharanpur, 51 in Hathras, 34 in Ambedkar Nagar, 35 in Moradabad, 15 in Firozabad, six in Aligarh and four in Jalaun," Kumar said.

In Prayagraj, where mobs went on a rampage on Friday, the civic body on Sunday demolished the house of the alleged mastermind of Friday's violence amid heavy police deployment.

Under Adityanath, the state administration has been cracking down on criminals and riot accused, seizing or razing their illegal properties A day earlier, the properties of two others accused of rioting were demolished in Saharanpur where stone-pelting had taken place as well.

"Javed Ahmad's house -- JK Ashiyana -- is located in the Kareli area of Prayagraj. Police personnel and a JCB machine reached the Kareli police station around 10.30 am and demolition commenced around 1 pm.

"The house was built without getting its map passed by the PDA. For this, he was issued a notice on May 10 and was told to present his side on May 24. On the given date, neither Javed nor his lawyer turned up. No document was presented as well, and hence on May 25, demolition orders were issued," an official of Prayagraj Development Authority said.

The items recovered from the house include two country-made pistols, several live cartridges, flags, posters and banners, the police claimed.

The police had said on Saturday that Javed Ahmad, alias Pump, had been arrested.

In Ranchi, internet services were restored in the district after nearly 33 hours even as Rapid Action Force, anti-terrorism squad, special task force and district police remained deployed at strategic locations, including "38 identified vulnerable pockets.

Police staged a flag march in East Singhbhum and imposed prohibitory orders in adjoining Seraikela-Kharswan as a precautionary measure to prevent any communal flare-up, officials said.

Family members of Mohammad Mudassir Alam and Mohammad Sahil, who were fatally shot during Friday's clashes, claimed they were not a part of the protest procession.

In reply to queries regarding police firing, Ranchi Senior Superintendent of Police Surendra Kumar Jha ,however, said that the standard operating procedures were adhered to.

"Firing is the last resort. We followed all norms before resorting to firing, as the crowd was aggressive and uncontrollable. I don't want to talk much on this as the matter is under investigation," Jha said.

Ranjan said prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been lifted from six of the 12 police station areas.

In West Bengal's Bethuadahari, a police officer said, over 1,000 demonstrators threw stones, damaged houses and tried to put up blockades on roads there. When chased by the police, a section of them went inside the Bethuadahari railway station and attacked the train which was on a platform there.

Train services in that line were disrupted for around two hours due to the incident.

Ten people have been detained in connection with the incident which happened at around 6.05 pm, the officer told PTI.

Another group vandalised Dhubulia railway station in Nadia. Some employees of the station and passengers of the Krishnagar-Lalgola local train were injured, an official of the Eastern Railway said.

In Purba Medinipur district, police prevented the Leader of Opposition in state Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, from visiting violence-hit areas of Howrah, where several BJP offices were targeted, "as a precautionary measure" as prohibitory orders have been clamped in many areas in the district.

Adhikari said he would move the court on Monday against this.

"The overall situation is peaceful at present as there have been no reports of any fresh incident in Howrah and Murshidabad districts. A total of 100 people have been arrested so far. Our force is on alert and any attempt to create disturbance will be dealt with strongly," a senior police officer told PTI over the phone.

In Kolkata, security was tightened in areas "considered sensitive" such as Park Circus, Kidderpore, Rajabazar and Mallickbazar.

An FIR has been lodged at Kanthi Police Station against Nupur Sharma, an official said.

In Jammu and Kashmir, one person was arrested for allegedly stoking communal tension as curfew and strict restrictions under prohibitory orders remained in force in parts of Chenab valley.

The accused Aadil Gafoor Ganai was arrested from his house during an early morning raid on Sunday by police at his residence at Chinar Mohalla locality for allegedly delivering an inflammatory speech from Markazi Jamia Masjid Bhaderwah on June 9 during a protest rally against remarks on Prophet Mohammad.

A police official said there was no untoward incident reported from anywhere in both Doda and Kishtwar districts.

A peaceful protest was staged in Jammu at Gujjar Nagar, a Muslim-dominated locality, against Nupur Sharma, officials said.

In the national capital, two men have been arrested for allegedly disrupting communal harmony and holding the protest without permission in the Jama Masjid area.

The two were arrested on Saturday night and have been identified as Mohd Nadeem (43), a resident of Jama Masjid area, and Faheem (37), a resident of Turkman Gate area, the police said.

An investigation is on to identify other persons involved and footage from CCTVs is being scanned, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Shweta Chauhan said.

The Delhi Police has registered an FIR against 31 people, including AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and controversial priest Yati Narsinghanand, and filed a separate case against Sharma for allegedly spreading hate and hurting religious sentiments.

In UP's Bareilly, an FIR was registered at Premnagar police station against one Rehan on Saturday night on the complaint of local BJP member Shalini Johri for allegedly posting an inflammatory message on a social media platform with an edited picture of Nupur Sharma.

Another FIR has been lodged against one Kuldeep who sent an objectionable message about the Prophet to one Furkhan.

In Ballia, one Muhammad Yakub Ansari, a resident of Revati town, had arrested after he posted an "indecent and objectionable post" against Sharma on Facebook on Saturday, the police said.

A lawyer has also filed a complaint in the court of the chief judicial magistrate of Srinagar against Sharma and others for the alleged "blasphemous" remarks against Prophet Mohammad.

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