Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s blasphemous comments on the marriage of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has stirred up huge outrage. Sharma made the comments during a television debate on the Gyanvapi Masjid on Times Now.
Political commentators and social activists have demanded the arrest of Sharma and said that insulting Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is blasphemous and thus unacceptable.
Saket Gokhale, the national spokesperson of the All-India Trinamool Congress, said that a complaint has been filed in Chanakyapuri police station in the national capital against Sharma for making “extremely inflammatory and false comments on Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad” ﷺ. He said it was a clear attempt to incite communal disharmony and Sharma must be arrested.
The Mumbai wing of Raza Academy has filed a complaint with the Pydhonie Police against Sharma’s blasphemy, demanding that an FIR be registered against Sharma under sections 153 (A), 153 (B), 295 (A), 504, 505 (1), 505 (2).
Acting on the Raza Academy’s complaint, the Mumbai Police booked Nupur Sharma on May 28 for her alleged remarks on Prophet Muhammad ﷺ during a television show. A case has been filed at the Pydhonie Police Station area in Mumbai under Sections 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505B (inducing to commit an offence against the State or against public tranquillity) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The FIR was registered based on a statement by Irfan Shaikh, joint secretary of the Mumbai wing of Raza Academy. As per his statement, he received a link on WhatsApp pertaining to the debate on the Gyanvapi issue in which Sharma participated. He said he was hurt on seeing the comments made by Sharma on the Prophet and his wife. Accordingly, he approached the Pydhonie police and gave a written complaint against Sharma and shared the link to the video of the debate, officers said.
Noted author and executive editor of the Force Magazine, Ghazala Wahab termed Sharma’s comments aimed at making the ground supple for mass-scale violence.
Sharma’s comments received a massive backlash after the video was tweeted by a renowned fact-checker Mohammad Zubair. He tweeted the video with a comment: “Prime Time debates in India have become a platform to encourage hate mongers to speak ill about other religions. @TimesNow‘s Anchor @navikakumar is encouraging a rabid communal hatemonger & a BJP Spokesperson to speak rubbish which can incite riots.”
Meanwhile, Sharma alleged that she has been receiving death and rape threats after Zubair tweeted a video of her controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). She claimed that Zubair, co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, put out a “heavily edited video” from one of her debates, saying Zubair will be “wholly & solely” responsible “if anything untoward happens to me or any of my family members.”
After Sharma tagged Delhi Police on Twitter accusing Zubair of inciting “communal passions”, Zubair said he was sure the police will register an FIR against the BJP spokesperson if they see the full video.
Delhi Police replied from its official Twitter handle saying, “The matter has been forwarded to the concerned officials for necessary action. You will be contacted shortly.”
Alt News’ co-founder Pratik Sinha, however, debunked Sharma’s claims and said that the claim that Zubair put out an edited video is completely false, and a lie propagated by Sharma. “Zubair put an unedited clip of the relevant part of the video where Nupur Sharma uses derogatory/insulting language on live TV.”
Although Times Now has made the video on their YouTube channel private, however, Sinha said that they have the entire 33-minute video downloaded.
Times Now has also distanced itself from Sharma’s views. In a tweet on May 27, the news channel wrote: “We urge participants in our debates to maintain restraint and not indulge in unparliamentary language against fellow panelists.”
Terming the coordinated attack against Zubair as an attempt to shirk accountability by hoisting false allegations, Sinha said that Zubair is not responsible for the alleged threats by Twitter users against Sharma, or how they react after watching the video.
Angry internet users on May 27 demanded the arrest of BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Times Now editor Navika Kumar. While Sharma was accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the controversial Times Now anchor faced flak for providing her platform to promote Islamophobia. Hashtag #ArrestNupurSharma has been trending prominently on Twitter since May 27.
The National Conference on May 28 demanded stern action against Nupur Sharma over her alleged remarks on Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. “The party expresses dismay over the ‘blasphemous, offensive, and frighteningly hurtful’ remarks of the BJP spokesperson against Prophet Muhammad during a debate on a national TV news channel,” Salman Ali Sagar, provincial president, Youth National Conference (YNC) Kashmir, said in a statement. He termed Sharma’s views unfounded, unsubstantiated and uncalled for in entirety.
“The BJP and the Union government must offer an unqualified apology for such sacrilegious comments in which the most sacred name for Muslims was used in a bid to stoke communal passions,” he said.
The NC leader said that action against Sharma could well send a strong message to all the nefarious elements of the country who are out to create a chasm between Hindus and Muslims for their own “political chicanery”.