Several parts of the country witnessed protests on last Friday against divisive comments on Prophet Muhammad by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma, which turned violent at multiple places with stone-pelting resulting in injuries to police personnel.
Initially, several places in Uttar Pradesh saw violence, which included stone-pelting at Prayagraj. People raised slogans and pelted stones in the Atala area of Prayagraj after the Friday prayers ended.
Eventually, massive protests were also reported in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Ranchi.
Uttar Pradesh police arrests over 300 people
The Uttar Pradesh Police has so far arrested over 300 people from eight districts of the state in connection with Friday's violence during protests against the controversial remarks of suspended BJP functionary Nupur Sharma on Prophet Mohammad.
On Friday, people pelted stones at police personnel in Prayagraj and Saharanpur during their protests after Friday prayers in mosques.
At least four other cities witnessed similar scenes during the marches that were carried out to protest the controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad made by now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.
In Prayagraj, the mob set on fire a few motorcycles and carts and also attempted to set ablaze a police vehicle. Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse the protesters and restored peace. A policeman was injured, according to police.
In Saharanpur and Prayagraj, police officials said action will be taken against those arrested under the stringent National Security Act (NSA).
In a statement issued on Sunday, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said, "As many as 304 persons have been arrested from eight districts of the state, and 13 cases have been registered in this connection in nine districts of the state."
Elaborating further, Kumar said, "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."
The ADG said a total of 13 FIRs have been lodged in connection with Friday's protests -- three each in Prayagraj and Saharanpur, and one each in Firozabad, Aligarh, Hathras, Moradabad, Ambedkarnagar, Lakhimpur Kheri and Jalaun.
Chief Minister Adityanath, who has often spoken of how under his rule the state has been rid of frequent riots, issued a stern warning.
"Strictest action will be taken against the anti-social elements involved in the chaotic efforts to spoil the atmosphere in various cities in the past few days," he said while issuing directives to officials.
माफिया को संरक्षण देने वालों के साथ सख्ती से निपटा जाएगा तथा माहौल बिगाड़ने की एक भी कोशिश स्वीकार नहीं की जाएगी।— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) June 11, 2022
साजिशकर्ताओं/अभियुक्तों की पहचान कर यथाशीघ्र गिरफ्तारी की जाएगी।
ऐसे लोगों के विरुद्ध NSA अथवा गैंगस्टर एक्ट के तहत नियम-संगत कार्रवाई की जाएगी।
"There is no place for such anti-social people in a civilised society. No innocent should be harassed, but not a single guilty should be spared," he said.
Protest turns massive in West Bengal's Howrah
After two days of stone-pelting and arson in West Bengal's Howrah district, the police said 60 people have been arrested and booked under IPC sections dealing with rioting, attempt to murder, and causing damage to public properties, among others, a senior police officer said.
Protests that broke out in Howrah on Friday over former Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) former spokesperson Nupur Sharma comments on Prophet Muhammad turned violent as hundreds of protesters blocked roads in different parts of Howrah and clashed with police personnel when they tried to lift the blockade on National Highway-6, a police officer said.
The officer added that the police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd at Dhulagarh and Panchla areas in Howrah where people pelted stones, damaging nearby cars.
The protesters also blocked railway tracks between Fuleswar and Chengail stations in the Howrah-Kharagpur section from 1.22 pm, a South Eastern Railway official said.
Following this, the internet was suspended in Howrah prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were imposed in certain areas.
Protest at Delhi's Jama Masjid
Police have registered a case in connection with Friday's protest outside Jama Masjid to demand the arrest of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her controversial remarks.
After the Friday prayers, a large crowd of people had gathered on the steps of the famous mosque, carrying placards and shouting slogans against Sharma and Naveen Jindal, former head of the Delhi BJP's media unit, for allegedly making derogatory remarks on the Prophet.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Shweta Chauhan said a case has been registered under section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code on Friday against the protesters and further investigation is underway.
On Friday, the DCP had said, Around 1,500 people had gathered at the mosque for Friday prayers. When the prayers ended peacefully, some people came outside, started showing placards and shouted slogans. Some others also joined them later and the numbers went up to around 300.
"Police deployment always remains at Jama Masjid during Friday prayers. The protesters were dispersed within 10 to 15 minutes and the situation is peaceful. Legal action will be taken in connection with the incident. We have identified some of the miscreants and our teams are working to identify others," Chauhan said.
Violence in Ranchi
Tension prevailed in Jharkhand capital Ranchi on Sunday, as shops and other establishments remained shut amid heavy deployment of security forces in the wake of violent protests over controversial comments on Prophet Mohammad.
Internet services, however, were restored in the district after nearly 33 hours, Ranchi Deputy Commissioner Chhavi Ranjan said.
Around 2,500 police personnel are on guard at sensitive areas in Ranchi, where two people were killed and more than two dozen people were critically injured, as protests and clashes rocked the city after the Friday prayers.
Over two dozen people were injured in the clashes that rocked the state capital on Friday, officials said.
Thirteen of the critically injured people were admitted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), doctors there said.
"Two of them died late last night. The condition of three people is serious and they are battling for their lives. The injured include CRPF personnel and policemen," a RIMS official said, adding the two deaths were caused by bullet injuries.
Ranchi's Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Surendra Kumar Jha was admitted to a hospital with head injury, officials said.
The protesters have been demanding the arrest of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled leader Naveen Jindal for their controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad.
"Eight FIRs have been lodged and police teams are investigating the matter. We have detained many people for interrogation. The matter is being investigated," Jharkhand Police Spokesperson and IG Operations, Amol V Homkar, told reporters.
Homkar said heavy police deployment has been ensured to maintain law and order.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been clamped in 12 police station areas, including Sukhdev Nagar, Lower Bazar, Daily Market and Hindpidi, of Ranchi district besides Hazaribag and Ramgarh districts to prevent flareups.
FIRs have been filed against over 10,000 unnamed people, official sources said.
Shutdown in parts of Jammu and Kashmir
Authorities in Jammu clamped curfew in few areas and parts of the Kashmir Valley observed a shutdown while prohibitory orders were imposed in parts of Ranchi as slogan shouting protesters carrying placards demanded the arrest of Nupur Sharma, a former BJP spokesperson, and Naveen Jindal, a former head of the Delhi BJP's media unit.
Tension mounted in Jammu's Bhaderwah and some areas of Kishtwar prompting authorities to impose curfew while parts of Kashmir observed a shutdown.
Internet services were snapped in Bhaderwah and Kishtwar towns and Srinagar city as a precautionary measure. Mobile Internet was also suspended in parts of Kashmir, an official said.
Sporadic incidents of stone-pelting were reported in Bhaderwah town. Some people, violating restrictions, came out on the streets and threw stones at security forces while raising slogans.
In Srinagar, protests were held at Lal Chowk, Batamaloo, Tengpora and other places with the demonstrators holding placards.
Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh appealed to people to behave responsibly and not get misled by provocation besides maintaining communal harmony.
He said curfew was been imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain peace.
(With PTI Inputs)