New Delhi: Hundreds gathered outside the Jama Masjid in Delhi after the Friday namaz to protest the controversial remarks about the Prophet Muhammad made by former BJP office bearers Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal. Simultaneous demonstrations were reported from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Jharkhand, and Jammu and Kashmir.
At the Jama Masjid, the situation remained under control and police — with help from members of the masjid committee — were able to get the crowd to disperse peacefully. Some demonstrators were seen holding placards with “arrest Nupur Sharma” written on them.
“There was no need for anyone to organise this protest. This is just our restlessness and anxiety,” said Mohammed Raees, a local resident who had joined the demonstration.
Sources in the Delhi Police told ThePrint that those who staged the demonstration at the Jama Masjid had not sought permission.
“Every Friday, 1,500-2,000 people gather for namaz at Jama Masjid. After the namaz was over, around 100-150 people came outside and started raising slogans and held placards. Some more people joined in later; the gathering was of around 300 people. Within 10-15 minutes, the crowd was dispersed,” DCP (Central) Shweta Chauhan said.
“We are taking legal action, and some miscreants have been identified,” she added.
Members of the Jama Masjid committee have distanced themselves from the demonstration, saying that it was instigated and carried out by “outsiders”.
“Thousands of people come to offer namaz here at the Jama Masjid every Friday. However, not everyone was involved in the protest. Right after the jumma namaz, 20-25 people took some papers out of their pockets, went to the chowk outside the gate and started sloganeering. I don’t know who they are but they had no permission from us or the police,” Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid, told ThePrint.
The Shahi Imam added that some local residents had approached the Jama Masjid committee Thursday, saying that a “demonstration will be held Friday and shops should be closed”.
“However, we categorically denied them any permission and I personally explained to them that they shouldn’t hold any protest because if any mischievous person throws one stone, the situation will go completely out of hand,” he said.
He added that a massive crowd had gathered at the Jama Masjid Friday afternoon to see what was happening, and not to participate in the demonstration.
‘We have every right to feel disappointed’
Many who had gathered outside the Jama Masjid told ThePrint that they were unaware of any demonstration until after the Friday namaz. They said they were “grieving” over the remarks made against the Prophet Muhammad, and how those at fault had not yet been arrested.
“Some TV channels are questioning why Islamic nations didn’t come together in response to other communal clashes to give statements for Indian Muslims and politics here. However, they fail to understand that this is beyond all of this — this time, our father, our guardian angel, our family, our everything was insulted. No Muslim can live with this,” said Wahid Khan, one of the demonstrators.
Others said they were expecting the government and law enforcement agencies to deliver justice by arresting Sharma and Jindal.
Another protestor, Faizi-ul-Naseer, said, “We have no existence without the Prophet, he lives in our heart. We have every right to feel disappointed and get upset when such remarks are made. As citizens of this country, we expect the government to take equal action against those hurting religious sentiments, and this must be done before other countries pass statements condemning the act. Anyone hurting anybody’s religious sentiments must be punished.”
“The government must end the matter now, unless they want to make it an issue of vote bank politics. However, if this continues, things will get out of hand soon,” he added.
Mastan Baba, a resident of Ajmer, shared similar sentiments. She, too, had questions about why former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma hadn’t been arrested.
The Delhi Police have lodged two FIRs — one against Nupur Sharma and other social media handles, and the other against Naveen Kumar Jindal and 31 others, including All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi and controversial priest Yati Narshingnand, for allegedly promoting enmity between religious groups.
A separate FIR was also lodged on the basis of Nupur Sharma’s complaint that she and her family have been receiving threats since she made the remarks on the Prophet Muhammad during a TV news debate in the last week of May.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)