The Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday suspended spokesperson Nupur Sharma from the party’s membership after her alleged remarks against Prophet Muhammad sparked an uproar among many Islamic nations, even leading to communal riots in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur. Several Arab countries like Kuwait and Qatar summoned Indian ambassadors over Sharma’s derogatory remarks. The suspended BJP leader has issued an apology, stating that her remarks were aimed at defending Lord Shiva, and were not meant to hurt anyone’s sentiments.
Another BJP leader Naveen Kumar Jindal, who served as the media in-charge of the saffron party’s Delhi unit, was expelled from the party over his alleged derogatory tweet on the Prophet on June 1. Jindal had come under attack on social media over his tweet referring to the Prophet.
Here are the top developments:
- India has hit back at Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s ‘unwarranted, narrow-minded’ statement over BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s alleged remarks against the Prophet. In a strongly-worded letter, Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi wrote, “Government of India categorically rejects OIC Secretariat’s unwarranted and narrow-minded comments. The Government of India accords the highest respect to all religions. The offensive tweets and comments denigrating a religious personality were made by certain individuals. They do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. Strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies.”
- Delhi Police on Monday has initiated an investigation against unidentified people after an FIR was filed against Nupur Sharma last week for her controversial statement against Prophet Muhammad, reported news agency ANI.
- At least 40 people, including 20 cops, were injured as clashes broke out in UP’s Kanpur on Friday night over the alleged remarks made by Nupur Sharma on national television. According to officials, there was a call for a Kanpur Bandh against the remarks by Sharma. Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind were attending an event around 80 km from where the violence unfolded.
- In a bid to defuse the row, the party suspended Sharma pending further investigation. BJP general secretary Arun Singh released an official statement, saying that the party “respects all religions and strongly denounces insult of any religious personality” while adding, “As India celebrates 75th year of its Independence, we are committed to making India a great country where all are equal and everyone lives with dignity, where all are committed to India’s unity and integrity, where all enjoy the fruits of growth and development.”
- Saudi Arabia has welcomed BJP’s move to suspend Sharma. Several Arab nations like Qatar and Saudi Arabia came out against Sharma’s statement and attacked the Indian government. The Grand Mufti of Oman Ahmed H. Khalili’s took to Twitter and launched a scathing attack against the ruling BJP. “The insolent and obscene rudeness of the official spokesman for the ruling extremist party in India against the Messenger of Islam, peace be upon him, and his pure wife, Mother of the Believers Aisha, may God be pleased with her, is a war against every Muslim in the east and west of the Earth, and it is a matter that calls for all Muslims to rise as one nation,” Khalili had tweeted on Saturday.
- Nupur Sharma has apologised, stating that her remarks were not meant to hurt any religious sentiments. She had made the alleged remarks on a TV debate. The media channel had also distanced itself from the BJP leader’s remarks. “I have been attending TV debates for the past many days where our Mahadev was being insulted and disrespected continuously. It was mockingly being said that it is not Shivling but a fountain. The Shivling was also being ridiculed by comparing it to roadside signs and poles in Delhi,” BJP leader Nupur Sharma’s statement says. “I could not tolerate this continuous insult and disrespect toward our Mahadev and I said some things in response to it. If my words have caused discomfort or hurt religious feelings of anyone whatsoever, I hereby unconditionally withdraw my statement. It was never my intention to hurt anyone’s religious feelings,” the statement further read.
- The Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the riots and has nabbed five more people linked with the violence, taking the number of total arrests to 29.