Protests continue in Indian city after lawmaker held for blasphemous remarks gets bail

Protests continue in Indian city after lawmaker held for blasphemous remarks gets bail

Pakistan condemns ruling Bhartiya Janata Party leader’s remarks against prophet

By Ahmad Adil and Islamuddin Sajid

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD (AA) – Overnight protests continued in Hyderabad city in India's Telangana state against a lawmaker belonging to the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) who was arrested for making derogatory remarks about Holy Prophet Muhammad on Tuesday and was released on bail.

Thakur Raja Singh, the BJP member of the state Legislative Assembly, was apprehended on Tuesday morning after multiple cases were registered against him as protests broke out at several places in the city on Monday night demanding his arrest.

On Monday, Singh released a video showing him making derogatory comments about the prophet.

Late on Tuesday night, Singh walked out of jail after a local court granted him bail.

Abdul Kader Saani, the caretaker of a shrine in Hyderabad, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that protests again broke out after the BJP leader was released.

He said protests continued for the whole night at several places in the city and remained peaceful.

“The only demand of everyone is that strict action should be taken against him. He repeatedly makes derogatory remarks against Islam,” Saani said.

Moulana Muzaffar Hussain Khan, another cleric based in Hyderbad, told Anadolu Agency that the release of Singh was not a good development.

“His statements are aimed at disturbing the communal harmony here. When he was arrested, everyone was satisfied. But, he got bail within hours and people again took to the streets,” he said.

Appealing the state government to take strict against him, Khan asked the protesting people not to take law into their own hands.

As Singh's comment draw condemnation from several quarters, the ruling party on Tuesday ordered the suspension of the lawmaker from the party, pending an inquiry.

Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, India's largest socio-religious Muslim organization, called the lawmaker’s derogatory remarks very shameful and shocking.

"The arrest of Raja Singh and the disciplinary action by the party were the need of the hour. However, it is not sufficient until such offenders are given exemplary punishment," the Jamiat quoted its National President Maulana Mahmood Asad Madani as saying.

- Pakistan condemns remarks

Pakistan on Wednesday strongly condemned the “highly provocative and sacrilegious” remarks made by the BJP official.

“This is the second time in the last three months that a senior BJP leader has made disrespectful comments against our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.

Pakistan said the lawmaker's derogatory remarks have gravely hurt the feeling of the people of Pakistan and billions of Muslims around the world and the token and perfunctory disciplinary action taken by the BJP against Singh cannot assuage the pain and anguish caused to Muslims.

It is highly reprehensible that Singh was released on bail within hours of arrest and was welcomed by BJP zealots, the ministry lamented.

Islamabad demanded New Delhi "take immediate and decisive action against the BJP members habitually involved in attacking Islam and targeting the dignity of the beloved Prophet (PBUH)."

Recently, Nupur Sharma, a BJP spokeswoman, made insulting remarks about the prophet during a TV debate, eliciting widespread condemnation both at home and in the Islamic world. Her remarks were condemned by the Indian government and the party, which suspended her.

Another BJP spokesman, Naveen Kumal Jindal, was expelled from the party for making comments on social media in support of Sharma and against Islam. Following their remarks, massive rallies were held across the country.

More than a dozen Islamic countries as well as international organizations had condemned the controversial remarks.

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