The suspension of Nupur Sharma and former legislator Naveen Jindal comes amid severe backlash from Arab countries, where people are boycotting Indian products, protesting the duo’s remarks against the Prophet.

Naveen Jindal on the left and Nupur Sharma on the rightNaveen Jindal and Nupur Sharma
news Controversy Sunday, June 05, 2022 - 17:13

After the controversial statements made by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma against Prophet Mohammed sparked widespread backlash, the party suspended her from the post on Sunday, June 5. A note by the party’s disciplinary committee stated that Sharma has “expressed views contrary to the party’s position on various matters”, which is a violation of the BJP’s constitution. Sharma’s suspension is in place with immediate effect. 

The development came hours after the party said in a statement that it “respects all religions” and “strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality”. The move comes after two cases were filed against Nupur Sharma for allegedly insulting the Prophet during a TV news debate regarding the Gyanvapi issue in Kashi.  As the row intensified, even sparking communal clashes in Kanpur, BJP general secretary Arun Singh said in the statement that the party was “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy.” However, the statement did not make any direct reference to any incident, person or comment.

Since the TV debate aired earlier in May, many in Arab countries have taken offence to it and called for an economic boycott of India and Indian products. Hashtags calling for a boycott were trending on social media, and many have called the BJP’s clarification statement a whitewash for the international audiences. There have been reports of superstores in countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain removing Indian products from their shelves, and anti-Modi hashtags trending there as well.

Along with Sharma, the party also suspended industrialist and former BJP legislator Naveen Jindal, who had drawn flak for a June 1 tweet in which he questioned Prophet Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha.

In its statement on Sunday, the BJP said that it “respects all religions. The BJP strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities of any religion (sic)," Singh said in the statement. He added that India's Constitution gives every citizen the right to practise any religion of his or her choice and to honour and respect every religion.

During the controversial debate on Times Now on the discovery of a shivling-like structure in Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque, Nupur had said that Muslims were mocking Hindus for calling the figure a ‘shivling’ even though it was later reportedly found to be a fountain. She added that she can mock things in the Quran as well, and went on to make a comment about Prophet Muhammed. A link to the same was shared by AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair, following which Nupur claimed the video was selectively edited. She said she was getting death threats, and blamed Zubair for the same.

So far, three cases have been booked against her in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune. While Sharma was booked under Sections 295 (a) (deliberate acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 153 (a) (punishment for wanton vilification of the founder or prophets of a religion) and 505 (b) (statements conducing public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in Mumbai and Pune, she was also booked under IPC Sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to disturb peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) in Hyderabad, ANI reported.

Meanwhile, Zubair has been booked by the Uttar Pradesh police for calling three controversial Hindu leaders — Yati Narasinghanand, Mahant Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop — as “hatemongers”. He has been booked with charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for outraging Hindu sentiments and Section 67 of the Information Technology (IT) Act. These Hindu leaders whom Zubair called hatemongers are known for making provocative and objectionable remarks against Muslims. Yati Narsinghanand was also jailed in a hate speech case and later given bail.

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