Protests erupt outside Delhi's Jama Masjid demanding Nupur Sharma's arrest

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People stage a protest over alleged remarks by suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma and expelled leader Naveen Jindal, at Jama Masjid, in Delhi on Friday | Photo: ANI

New Delhi: Protests erupted outside the Jama Masjid here after Friday prayers with hundreds of people demanding the arrest of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad, police said.

However, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, distanced himself from the protest saying "no body knows who the protesters were" and demanded action against such people.

A large crowd of people 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.

There was heavy security deployment to manage the situation and avoid any untoward incident.

According to senior police officials, the protest was held peacefully on the stairs near gate number one of the mosque, and it lasted for around 15 to 20 minutes. The protesters were dispersed from the area later.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (central) Shweta Chauhan 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 regarding the incident as per law. We have identified some of the miscreants and our teams are working to identify others."

Even after the protesters were dispersed, teams of the police and the CISF continued to be deployed in the area.

Bukhari, meanwhile, distanced himself from the protest.

"After the Friday prayers, around 40-50 people staged protest shouting slogans of different kinds and held posters. There was no announcement of protest from Jama Masjid. Nobody knows who those people were because thousands had gathered for the Friday prayers," Bukhari told PTI.

Bukhari said many people had contacted him seeking clarity about the protests and shutting of shops and markets in the area to condemn the remarks against the Prophet.

"I advised them to desist from such action and maintain peace. The Delhi Police can probe who the protesters were because there was no permission for the demonstration," he said.

Akram Qureshi, a resident of the area, said, "The protest was held near the gate number one of Jama Masjid. We demanded the arrested of Nupur Sharma for her remark on Prophet Mohammad. It was a peaceful protest, and people left the area after a while."

"Nupur Sharma should be arrested. I will keep protesting until she is put behind bars. How dare she disrespect our religion," questioned 57-year-old Baba Mastan, who was part of the protest.

Mohammad Fahad (59), a shopkeeper, said, "The protest started at 2 pm. They were dispersed by the police within 15-20 minutes. It was a peaceful protest."

Chiraguddin, 45, was part of the group which gathered later near the mosque, said "We want Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal to be arrested. We all are Indians and people of all cultures have been living in this country since ages.

"How can anybody comment something derogatory about someone's community? We never disrespected their community. Both of them should be arrested and put behind the bars."

The row over the alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad escalated on Sunday with protests from countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Iran, prompting the BJP to take action against its functionaries and assert that it respects all religions.

As the row intensified domestically and abroad, the BJP on Sunday suspended Sharma and expelled Jindal.

The Delhi Police has registered an FIR against 31 people, including AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and controversial priest Yati Narsinghanand, and filed a separate case against Sharma for allegedly spreading hate and hurting religious sentiments.

The two FIRs were registered on Wednesday after a social media analysis, police officials had said.

Jindal, who was expelled from the party over his alleged remarks against Prophet Mohammad, and journalist Saba Naqvi have been named in the FIR.


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