Indian police arrest Modi party youth leader over anti-Muslim comments | world news

By Saurabh Sharma and Rupam Jain

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) – Police in northern India have arrested a young leader of the ruling Hindu nationalist party for posting anti-Muslim comments on social media after derogatory remarks by another party official over the Prophet Muhammad have sparked diplomatic furor, officials said on Wednesday.

Harshit Srivastava, a young leader of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party, was arrested in the city of Kanpur following communal tensions last week during a protest by Muslims to denounce anti-Islamic remarks.

“We arrested the local politician for making inflammatory remarks against Muslims,” ​​said Prashant Kumar, a senior police official, adding that at least 50 people had been arrested following the tensions in Kanpur.

Srivastava’s attorney was unavailable for comment.

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Sporadic unrest was reported in other parts of the country following comments against the Prophet by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a televised debate.

She was suspended from the party while another spokesperson, Naveen Kumar Jindal, was expelled for comments he made about Islam on social media, the BJP said.

Domestic outrage gained new momentum after leaders of Islamic countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan demanded an apology from the Indian government and summoned diplomats to protest anti-Islamic remarks.

The influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has 57 members, said in a statement that the insults came against the backdrop of an increasingly intense atmosphere of hatred towards Islam in India and systematic harassment of Muslims.

India’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the offensive tweets and comments in no way reflect the views of the government.

The controversy has become a diplomatic challenge for Modi who in recent years has cemented close ties with energy-rich Islamic nations.

Instructions have been given to several members of his Hindu nationalist party to be “extremely careful” when discussing religion on public platforms.

Members of an Islamic rights group in India said it was the first time influential foreign leaders had spoken out against what they called the humiliation suffered by the minority community.

“Our voices have finally been heard, only world leaders can push Modi’s government and his party to change their attitude towards Muslims,” ​​said Ali Asghar Mohammed, who heads a Muslim rights group in Mumbai.

(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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