Srinagar: Communal tensions continue to prevail in the Jammu division’s Doda, Kishtwar, Gool Gulabgarh, Ramban and Reasi areas, despite the J&K Police arresting three individuals who had allegedly made derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad in an interview to a local cable news channel over the weekend.
Muslim groups in these areas had called for a complete shutdown Monday in protest, and barring some minor incidents of violence despite a curfew in Kishtwar that were quickly brought under control, the situation remained peaceful in the presence of heavy security. Demonstrations took place in these areas, while in the Kashmir region too, small protests were organised.
Jammu IGP Mukesh Singh, in a video message, issued a plea asking people to maintain peace and not to share the video in question. He said the circulation of the video causes communal disharmony and peace, adding that strict action will be taken against people sharing the video.
In an evening press conference, Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh said all three accused had been arrested, and that the individual who recorded the video would also be brought in.
Muslim groups call for death penalty
According to police officials, two men who were seen in the video, named Satpal Sharma and Deepak, were arrested and booked under sections 153 (provoking with intent to cause a riot) and 295 A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code.
The third man, Rohit, was on the run for a while longer before being arrested Monday. Officials say all three men belong to a group called Rashtriya Suraksha Dal.
Local residents across the Jammu region organised scores of rallies in protest, and various Muslim religious and community groups in the region, including Anjuman Islamia, Bhaderwah; Jamia Masjid Committee, Tathri; and Kishtwar Islami Markazi Majlis-e-Shura, called for a shutdown and civil curfew to be observed Monday against the “blasphemy”. The Majlis-e-Shura and some other groups demanded capital punishment for the accused.
The video also drew massive amounts of flak online.
In a press statement, the National Conference expressed “outrage at the objectionable remarks made by members of a Right wing organisation in Reasi against Prophet Muhammad (SAW)”. It too sought “exemplary punishment to such deranged elements under law who are hell-bent to destroy the traditional amity and brotherhood in J&K”.
NC’s additional general secretary Mustafa Kamal said, “Jammu and Kashmir has been an alcove of peace, and brotherhood; the people of J&K have never allowed themselves get swayed by such elements as are hell-bent to destroyed the inter-communal harmony and brotherhood, the prized heirloom of our pluralistic culture.”
Kamal added, “The people of J&K reject such elements and bigoted ideologies and views. Mutual harmony and brotherhood are the traits which have long been the cultural mainstay of J&K. I, on my behalf and on behalf of my party, condemn such remarks and demand exemplary punishment to the culprits and outlaw the group.
“The licence of the media channel should also be cancelled immediately for beaming such improper content. The reporter should also be taken to task for allowing such derogatory language to go on air.”