Mamata wades into Prophet row, demands arrest of accused BJP leaders

Mamata wades into Prophet row, demands arrest of 'accused' BJP leaders

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday (June 10) condemned the remarks by two BJP functionaries on Prophet Mohammad, terming them as “hate speech”, and demanded that the accused leaders be immediately arrested so that the country’s unity isn’t disturbed.

Noting that such remarks not only cause violence but also lead to societal division, she called upon people from all religions, castes and communities to maintain peace despite provocation and also asked demonstrators who have put up road blockades in several places of West Bengals Howrah district to protest against the controversial speech of Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal to call off their stir and go protest in New Delhi and BJP ruled states instead.

Related link: Delhi police names Nupur Sharma, Naveen Jindal, Saba Naqvi in FIRs for hate speech

“I condemn the recent heinous and atrocious hate speech remarks by a few disastrous BJP leaders, resulting in not only spread of violence, but also division of the fabric of the country, leading to disturbance of peace and amity,” Banerjee said in a series of tweets.

The speech of the BJP leaders has tarnished the image of India across the globe, she asserted. “I strongly seek that the accused leaders of BJP be arrested immediately so that the unity of the country is not disturbed and people at large do not face mental agony,” she said.

Banerjee also appealed to people to maintain calm in the larger interest of the nation. “At the same time, I appeal to all my brothers and sisters from all castes, creeds, religions, and communities to maintain peace in the larger interest of the common people, despite the provocation which we so strongly condemn,” she said in a Twitter post.

Related link: This hate wave against Muslims will dissipate some day: Naseeruddin Shah

Later in the day, Banerjee who is also the Trinamool Congress supremo, asked demonstrators to protest in BJP ruled states and not in West Bengal. “Road blockades are going on since morning in some places and people are suffering. I will request you (protestors) on behalf of the common people to call off the blockades as nothing has happened in West Bengal. Go and protest in New Delhi, where there is a BJP government. Go to Gujarat and UP,” Banerjee said at the state secretariat.

She further said that if the minorities are attacked, the majority community should protest and vice versa. “You are angry with the BJP, but are not getting them. Will you be happy if you kill me? I’m ready. But please don’t take revenge on people,” she said.

Bengal Imams Association, an organisation of clerics, on Thursday announced agitational programmes in various mosques across the state on June 10 in protest against the speech of the two BJP leaders. “While protests are already taking place in some parts of the state, we call upon mosque committees to hold agitational programmes on Friday in their mosques demanding arrest of the two leaders under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act,” the Associations President Md. Yahia said in a video message.

Yahia also urged people not to go for disruptive protests like putting up road blockades and requested the administration to take “strong action” in such cases. “Bengal Imams Association does not approve of such unruly activities,” he said in a statement later.

India has faced diplomatic heat with strong reactions by Islamic countries to the controversial comments by two BJP functionaries against Prophet Mohammad even as it slammed the 57-nation OIC for its “motivated” and “mischievous” comments on the matter. After Kuwait, Qatar and Iran summoned Indian ambassadors over the remarks by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, several Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Bahrain, Maldives, and Oman, also denounced the comments. Following the controversy, the BJP expelled Jindal and suspended Sharma. Some of the Islamic countries which condemned the remarks, welcomed the saffron party’s punitive action against the duo.

Related link: Prophet row rages as 15 countries denounce remarks by BJP leaders

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