The Delhi Police on Monday booked suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, expelled BJP leader Naveen Jindal and journalist Saba Naqvi following the row on religious hate speech and the recent controversial remarks against Prophet Muhammad.
The Delhi Police has registered two FIRs — one against Nupur Sharma and the other against those who have been accused of making "controversial" statements continuously. The second one includes the names of Naveen Jindal, Shadab Chauhan, Saba Naqvi, Maulana Mufti Nadeem, Abdur Rehman, Gulzar Ansari, and Anil Kumar Meena.
Sharma’s and another party functionary Naveen Jindal’s remarks have triggered the debate in the socio-political space in India and abroad. In light of the recent controversy, here’s a wrap of all that has happened so far.
On Thursday, the Delhi Police also filed an FIR against AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and Hindutva leader Swami Yati Narsinghanand over inflammatory remarks made on social media and hurting religious sentiments.
Are Sharma's remarks affecting India's ties with Gulf nations?
The United Arab Emirates, Oman, Indonesia, Iraq, the Maldives, Jordan, Libya and Bahrain have joined the growing list of countries in the Islamic world that have condemned the remarks. Earlier, Kuwait, Iran and Qatar had called Indian ambassadors to register their protest, and Saudi Arabia had issued a strongly-worded statement.
A news channel in Iran reported what Tehran called an "insult against the Prophet of Islam in an Indian TV show". The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), based in the Saudi city of Jeddah, also condemned the remarks.
Amid the growing condemnation, the BJP issued a clarification saying it respects all religions and then suspended both the leaders pending an inquiry. The Indian Embassy in Qatar issued a statement calling those making the remarks against Prophet Muhammad ‘fringe elements’.
Backlash in India
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said that the unwarranted remarks of the BJP members have brought India to its knees and the country had to bear the humiliation.
"Due to a statement of a spokesperson of the BJP, the nation had to bear the humiliation. Here, in the state, BJP is making issues about loudspeakers & other things," Thackeray said while speaking during a public meeting by his party, Shiv Sena, at Sambhajinagar in Aurangabad.
The Bengal Imam Association on Wednesday also urged the Centre to charge Sharma with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for her Prophet remarks. The body called on all mosques and imams to protest against Nupur's statement on Friday, according to media reports.
Congress condemned the BJP’s suspension of Sharma calling the act a “good cop-bad cop” game. Speaking to The Hindu, senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh said, "The BJP is fooling nobody by this 'good cop-bad cop' routine. These are usual tactics. Get one of your people to make obnoxious statements and then appear moderate by rebuking them."
Al-Qaeda issues threat
The terror outfit Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), issued a letter where they have warned of carrying out suicide bombing attacks in Indian cities as a response to the controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad.
In a threat letter issued on June 6, Al Qaeda stated, " We shall kill those who affront our Prophet and we shall bind explosives with our bodies and the bodies of our children to blow away the ranks of those who dare to dishonour our Prophet... The saffron terrorists should now await their end in Delhi, Bombay, UP and Gujarat.
Charges against Nupur Sharma
Nupur Sharma has been charged under IPC (Indian Penal Code) sections 153A, 153 B, 295A, 298 and 505. The sections can be precisely summed up as 'promoting enmity, outraging religious feelings’, ‘uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person’, ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of a class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs’, and other offences.
Support on Social Media
While Sharma's comments were largely trolled and criticised by foreign media, governments and large sections of the Indian population, ceratin sections of soial media rallied in support for the former BJP spokesperson. Hashtags like #ISupportNupurSharma started trending from Day 1 and are stillbeing used heavily. Many from India's far right or right wing came out in support of Sharma for supposed;y "defending" Hindu faith and speaking the "truth". Many such as BJP leader Uma Bharti, actor Kangana Ranaut, have made viral social media posts in support of Sharma. "We cannot throw her to the wolves," Bharti said in a post. Not just support for Sharma, several social media users also criticised the Gulf Nations such as Kuwait and Qatar for censuring India. Hashtags like #BoycottQuatarAirlines went viral.
Dutch MP comes out in support
Sharma also found unwavering support from controversial Dutch MP Geert Wilders who stood squarely behind her amid extreme reactions and backlash from the Islamic nations and threat from the terror outfit Al Qaeda for her controversial statements about Prophet Muhammad.
The Dutch MP called on Indians to never "give in to Islamic terrorists like Al Qaida as they represent barbarism". In a couple of tweets, he added, “Appeasement never works. It’ll only make things worse. So my dear friends from India, don’t be intimidated by Islamic countries. Stand up for freedom and be proud and steadfast in defending your politicians.”
Wilders, it is to be noted, is a far-right political leader from The Netherlands who is known for his Islamophobic comments and biased criticism of Islam.