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 (peace be upon him) by two now-sacked BJP functionaries, with authorities in Uttar Pradesh razing “illegal” houses of the accused for the second day.
There were a few sporadic incidents of violence and protests, with a group of people attacking and damaging a local train at Bethuadahari railway station in West Bengal’s Nadia district on Sunday evening.
Among those arrested, 304 were held in eight districts in Uttar Pradesh and 100 in Howrah and Murshidabad districts 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 in the Jharkhand capital, and stepped up security 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 possible 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 clamped prohibitory orders 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 304 people have been arrested in eight districts.
“91 persons have been arrested in Prayagraj, followed by 71 in Saharanpur, 51 in Hathras, 34 each in Ambedkar Nagar and Moradabad, 15 in Firozabad, six in Aligarh and two in Jalaun,” he said.
In Prayagraj, where mobs went on a rampage, 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.
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 (peace be upon him).
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