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Indian Muslim part in the Mass Protest Rally during a protest against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Bill on December 13,2019 in Kolkata,India. (Photo by Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

International

Indian police kills two Muslims protesting against derogatory remarks for Prophet (PBUH)

Anger has enraged the Islamic world since last week when a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party made offensive remarks about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) during a TV show.

Indian police shot dead two protesters and arrested over 130 others during street rallies sparked by a BJP’s spokesperson’s derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), authorities said Saturday.

Anger has enraged the Islamic world since last week when a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party made offensive remarks about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) during a TV show.

In India, Muslims took to the streets after Friday prayers in large numbers across India to condemn the remarks, with police firing on a crowd in the eastern city of Ranchi.

“Police were forced to open fire to disperse protesters, resulting in the death of two,” a police officer from the eastern city of Ranchi told media.

Officers claimed that the crowd had defied their orders not to march from a mosque to a market and thrown broken bottles and stones when police attempted to disperse the rally with a baton charge.

Authorities cut internet connections in the city and imposed a curfew, with local resident Shabnam Ara telling AFP the atmosphere remained tense on Saturday.

“We are praying for peace and harmony,” she added.

Police in Uttar Pradesh fired tear gas to disperse at least one rally after several demonstrations were staged across the northern state.

Most protests ended peacefully but demonstrators in some cities had “thrown stones at police and injured at least one officer”, said Avanish Awasthi, a senior government secretary in the state.

“We will take strict action against those indulging in stone pelting and violence,” Awasthi told reporters.

“Those working behind the scene, instigating violence, will not be spared at all.”

Prashant Kumar, a senior police officer in the state, told media that up to “136 protesters” had been arrested from six districts around Uttar Pradesh.

Cities around India saw sizable demonstrations on Friday, with some crowds burning effigies of Nupur Sharma, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokeswoman whose comments set off the furore.

Diplomatic storm

Sharma’s remarks have embroiled India in a diplomatic storm, with the governments of nearly 20 countries calling in their Indian envoys for an explanation.

The BJP has gone into damage control, suspending the official from its ranks and issuing a statement in which the party insisted it respected all religions.

Friday saw the biggest street rallies yet in response to the furore, with police estimating more than 100,000 people mobilised across Bangladesh after midday prayers.

Another 5,000 people took to the streets in the Lahore at the call of a religious party, calling on the government to take stronger action against India over the comments.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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