Suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma summoned by Maha police

People hold up the national flag of India before the start of a protest demanding the arrest of BJP member Nupur Sharma. Photo: Reuters

Mumbai/New Delhi: Suspended BJP functionary Nupur Sharma was on Tuesday summoned by Maharashtra Police for recording her statement in the case registered against her for controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad that have drawn mounting backlash in India and abroad, while security was provided to her by the Delhi Police after she complained of receiving death threats.

The Opposition has been demanding strict legal action against Sharma and has accused the ruling BJP of harming India's image with its "politics of hatred'' after many Muslim countries lodged their protest on the issue and issued statements criticising the alleged derogatory remarks made during a TV debate.

Asserting that the controversy had not impacted the NDA dispensation as Sharma was not a government functionary, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said ''good relations" would continue with the countries even as Malaysia, Iraq and Libya joined over a dozen Muslim nations in condemning the comments.

Delhi-based Sharma has been summoned by the Mumbra police in Thane, neighbouring Mumbai, to record her statement before the investigating officer on June 22 in connection with an FIR registered against her, a Thane police official said.

Also, the Mumbai Police has asked a news channel to hand over the video clip of Sharma of the alleged objectionable statements made by her during a TV debate in connection with another FIR at Pydhonie police station.

People shout slogans as they hold placards during a protest demanding the arrest of BJP member Nupur Sharma for her blasphemous comments on Prophet Mohammed, in Kolkata on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

A Delhi Police official, meanwhile, said that Sharma and her family have been provided police security after she alleged that she has been receiving threats and was being harassed over her remarks

Police said on May 28, its cyber cell unit received a complaint from Sharma against various persons about death threats and targeted hatred after which an FIR was registered under various IPC sections including 506 (criminal intimidation).

The BJP had on Sunday suspended Sharma and expelled its Delhi unit media head Naveen Kumar Jindal who again claimed on Tuesday that he and his family members have been receiving "death threats" on social media platforms.

The BJP action came as the row over their alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad escalated with protests from several Muslim countries and groups.

India continued to grapple with the international fallout on Tuesday, with the Indian Missions in these countries maintaining that the controversial remarks do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India and noting that "vested interests" that are against India's bilateral ties with these nations have been inciting the people using these comments.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal too stressed that good relations will continue with the Gulf countries that have reacted sharply to the issue.

"I don't think that this statement was made by any government functionary and, therefore, it has no impact on the government and necessary action has been taken by the party," Goyal, Minister for Commerce and Industry told, reporters in Kochi, Kerala when asked about the controversy.
He said the External Affairs Ministry has clarified the issue.

"The Foreign Office has come out with a clear clarification on that remark and the BJP has taken the necessary action in this regard. With all these countries, we have a very good relationship and our relations will continue to be very good," he said.

When asked about a social media campaign to boycott Indian products in the wake of the row, the minister said he has not heard of any such thing.

"They have only mentioned that such a statement should not be made and accordingly, action has been taken against the person who made the comments. All the Indians living in gulf countries are safe and do not have to worry," the union minister said.

After the row erupted, the BJP asserted that it respects all religions and strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality.

Sharma unconditionally withdrew her controversial statement and claimed her comments were a reaction to the "continuous insult and disrespect towards our Mahadev (Lord Shiva)".
On Tuesday, Sharma said she respects the party' decision.

"I have practically grown up in the organisation. I respect and accept its decision,'' she said.

Qatar, Iran and Kuwait had on Sunday summoned India's Ambassadors and expressed their strong protest and condemnation of the controversial remarks.

In response to a statement issued by the Parliamentary Committee on Awqaf and Tribals of Iraq on the controversial tweets, the Indian embassy there said that "in line with our civilisational heritage and strong cultural traditions of unity in diversity, Government of India accords the highest respect of all religions".

Strong action has already been taken against those who made derogatory remarks. A statement has also been issued by concerned quarters emphasising respect for all religions, denouncing insults to any religious personality or demeaning any religion or sect, it said.

"Vested interests that are against India-Iraq relations have been inciting the people using these derogatory comments. We should work together against such mischievous elements who aim to undercut the strength of our bilateral ties," said the statement.

Egypt-based Arab Parliament also expressed its strong condemnation and rejection of the "irresponsible remarks issued by the spokeswoman of India's ruling (BJP) against Prophet Mohammad."

On Monday, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, the UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and Afghanistan too had condemned the remarks.

Responding to a query on the issue, Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, said, I've seen stories. I haven't seen the remarks themselves, but I mean, regardless, I can tell you that we strongly encourage respect and tolerance for all religions.

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