Indian police launched brutal crackdown on protests on Sunday that erupted across India over derogatory remarks against Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by top leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Muslims have taken to the streets to protest against anti-Islamic comments made by two leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal, in the recent week.
Countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, and Iran, which are key trade partners for India, lodged protests through diplomatic channels and used social media to demand an apology from the government.
Clashes over the remarks simmered across India, as some in the minority Muslim community see them as the latest instance of pressure and humiliation under BJP rule on issues ranging from freedom of worship to the wearing of hijab head scarves.
Two teenagers were killed when police opened fire on protesters in the eastern city of Ranchi. Sporadic riots in northern Uttar Pradesh state led to the arrests of over 300 people.
In the eastern state of West Bengal, authorities enforced an emergency law prohibiting public gatherings in the industrial district of Howrah until June 16. At least 70 people were arrested.
In occupied Kashmir, police arrested a youth for posting a video against Nupur Sharma, the spokesperson of India’s ruling party who had made derogatory remarks about the Prophet (PBUH).
Meanwhile videos went viral of police brutality in Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad, according to an Al Jazeera report.
The report also said police raided the home of student leader Afreen Fatima, arresting her father Mohammad Javed, mother and sister. They have accused her father, who is diabetic and needs insulin daily, of “masterminding the protests”.
“First a police party came at around 8:30pm and took away my father and then they came at 11:30pm and detained my mother and sister. Third time they came at 2:30am to detain me but we resisted and since then the policemen have cordoned off our house,” Fatima told Al Jazeera.
“We are only women and children at home. We feel cornered and traumatised. The police have asked us to leave the house locked.
“I have no idea where my father, mother and sister are. I am worried about their safety. My father is a diabetic and he needs insulin injection every night.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan strongly condemned the “heavy-handed treatment by the Indian authorities of Muslim who were registering a peaceful protest after Friday prayers”.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the “indiscriminate and widespread” use of brute force by the Indian authorities across various states in India had resulted in killing of two innocent Muslim protesters and critically injured thirteen others in Ranchi city.
“The footage of Indian forces unabashedly opening fire on unarmed protesters in Ranchi city is horrific beyond belief. This is a new low in the Indian government’s repressive ‘Hindutva’ inspired majoritarian policy aimed at demonizing and persecuting minorities, especially Muslims,” it said.
“Pakistan denounces this shameful treatment of Indian Muslim citizens by the Indian government and expresses its solidarity with the Muslims of India in these testing times.”
The ministry called the situation in the neighbouring country alarming, continuing that despite the global condemnation of the BJP officials’ sacrilegious remarks, the Indian government’s reaction had been muted, while on the other hand the BJP-RSS regime had persisted in its Islamophobic actions and had shamefully chosen to handle public protest with brutal and indiscriminate use of force.
“The Indian Government’s apathy to the grievous situation and the vicious cycle of communal violence may lead to further marginalization of the Indian Muslims,” it warned, urging the international community to take immediate cognisance of the grievously aggravating situation of Islamophobia in India.
India must be held accountable for stifling the rights of the minorities, especially Muslims, and ensure that Muslims living in India are not victimized for practicing their faith and religious beliefs, the ministry added.
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