West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday, 9 June, condemned the remarks against Prophet Muhammad by BJP functionaries Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, calling it "hate speech," and demanded their immediate arrest.
Noting that such remarks not only cause violence but also lead to societal division, she called upon people from all religions, castes, and communities to maintain peace amid provocation.
Meanwhile, protests broke out in Howrah district over Sharma's controversial remarks and ten people were arrested, the chief minister confirmed.
"I strongly seek that the accused leaders of BJP be arrested immediately so that the unity of the country is not disturbed and people at large do not face mental agony," Banerjee said.
"At the same time, I appeal to all my brothers and sisters from all castes, creeds, religions, and communities to maintain peace in the larger interest of the common people, despite the provocation which we so strongly condemn," Banerjee added.
What Happened at the Protests?
Protesters blockaded NH6 from 10.30 am which led to vehicles, ambulances, police vans, fire tenders, and trucks getting stuck in traffic winding 37 kms.
Banerjee appealed to the protesters to lift the blockade and asked them to take the agitation to the states ruled by the BJP.
"I will request you (protesters) on behalf of the common people to call off the blockades as nothing has happened in West Bengal. Go to New Delhi and protest, where there is a BJP government. Go to Gujarat and UP,” Banerjee said at the state secretariat.
India has faced diplomatic heat with strong reactions by Islamic countries to the controversial comments made by two BJP functionaries against Prophet Muhammad. The Ministry of External Affairs slammed the 57-nation OIC for its "motivated" and "mischievous" comments on the matter.
After Kuwait, Qatar, and Iran summoned Indian ambassadors over the remarks by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, several Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Indonesia, Bahrain, Maldives, and Oman, also denounced the comments.
Following the controversy, BJP expelled Jindal and suspended Sharma. Some of the Islamic countries which condemned the remarks, welcomed the party's punitive action against the duo.
(With inputs from PTI)