Clashes in Kanpur over 'insult' to Prophet during TV debate

People throw stones during clashes in Kanpur on Friday. Photo: PTI

Kanpur: Violence erupted in parts of Kanpur after Friday prayers as members of two communities indulged in brick-batting and hurled bombs over attempts to shut shops in protest against 'insulting' comments on Prophet Mohammed.

Clashes broke out in Pared, Nai Sadak and Yateemkhana areas of Kanpur, police said.

The two sides hurled bombs and opened fire as members of one of the groups attempted to shut shops over alleged insulting remarks made by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a television debate recently, a senior police official said.

Those who allegedly forced shopkeepers to shut shops clashed with police personnel who had to use batons to disperse the mob.

Some local leaders, including Maulana Mohammed Ali (MMA) Jauhar Fans Association chief Hayat Zafar Hashmi, had called for closure of shops on Friday in protest against the remarks. They had also taken out a procession during which they confronted members of other community, an official said, adding that as a result of which clashes broke out.

Soon hundreds of people had taken to the streets in protest. About half-a-dozen people, including street goers and onlookers, sustained serious injuries in the incident, he said.

Kanpur's District Magistrate Neha Sharma told PTI, "Members of a particular community took to the street in protest and indulged in violence. Several people were seriously injured and have been sent for medical assistance.

Heavy police force has been deployed in the affected areas. The police have also sought additional reinforcement, she said.

Kanpur police commissioner Vijay Singh Meena, who reached the spot, told reporters, "Suddenly, around 50-100 people came and started raising slogans, which was opposed by the other side. Then there was stone pelting. The police force controlled the situation to a great extent.

As of now, around 20 people have been taken into custody and are being interrogated. The police are patrolling the area, he said.

Meena said two people have been injured, adding that the situation is under control now.

The district magistrate said strict instructions have been issued to maintain a close vigil on the situation.

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