Sep 22, 2022

Nupur Sharma controversy; Will India maintain a silent approach to the issue as they did for other issues?

India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been within the limelight again ever since a party’s leading active leader allegedly made controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammad throughout a TV debate.

The provocative remarks made by BJP's Nupur Sharma has additionally created an uproar within the Arab world. Adding fuel to fire one other saffron occasion another BJP chief Naveen Jindal allegedly made remarks on Prophet Muhammad.

With the growing opposition within the country itself and further in regional and Arab countries over the controversial remarks, the BJP had to suspend Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal from the first membership of the party, which is the one and only major step taken by Prime Minister Modi’s party against them ever since the controversial made by Sharma on May 28 throughout a TV debate.

And also, BJP additionally distanced itself from the controversy and issued a press release “strongly condemning” the insult to any non-secular particular person of any faith and underlined the fitting of each citizen to observe any faith of their selection.

In a letter to Nupur Sharma, the BJP’s Central Disciplinary Committee said that she has expressed opposite views on the occasion’s place on numerous issues, and therefore, she has been suspended from the occasion with speedy impact.

After Nupur Sharma was suspended she unconditionally withdrew the remarks that she had made on Prophet Muhammad.

Nupur stated in a press release that ‘Mahadev’ is being insulted and insulted constantly for the final number of days. “It was being jokingly stated that it was not a ‘Shivling’ however a fountain. The (Gyanvapi) Shivling was even in comparison with roadside indicators and sticks in Delhi,” he stated.

“I couldn’t bear this fixed insult and disrespect in the direction of my Mahadev and I stated a few issues in response to it. If my phrases have harmed anybody’s non-secular sentiments or harm anybody’s non-secular sentiments, I’ll without Situation withdraw my assertion. It was by no means my intention. To harm anybody’s non-secular sentiments,” Sharma stated in her apology.

A case was registered against Nupur on May 28 for making objectionable remarks following a complaint lodged by Irfan Sheikh, joint secretary of Raza Academy, an Islamist group based in Maharashtra.

Nupur was charged under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 153A (promoting enmity between groups) and 505(2) (statements conducing to public mischief), police had said.

The protests were sparked in many parts of India including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Kanpur areas over the remarks.

Meanwhile, Nupur and her family were provided security by the Delhi Police today after she filed a complaint for allegedly being harassed and getting death threats.

When a case against Sharma was taken up at India’s Supreme Court, the Court criticised Nupur Sharma for her remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, declaring that her "loose tongue" had "put the entire country on fire," and requiring her to make an instant public apology.

"She actually has a loose tongue and has made all kinds of irresponsible statements on TV and set the entire country on fire. Yet, she claims to be a lawyer of 10 years standing... She should have immediately apologised for her comments to the whole country," the court said.

Modi’s government’s lethargy approach to settle the issue will eventually damage India's ties with the Arab world and Iran.

The UAE, Oman, Indonesia, Iraq, the Maldives, Jordan, Libya and Bahrain have joined with a few other Muslim nations to condemn the remarks. Kuwait, Iran and Qatar had called Indian ambassadors to register their protest while Saudi Arabia had issued a strongly worded statement.

Although the Indian diplomats were trying to placate these countries but no signs of ending the crisis.

"Allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment, constitutes a grave danger to the protection of human rights and may lead to further prejudice and marginalisation, which will create a cycle of violence and hate," Qatar's ministry of foreign affairs said.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its condemnation and denunciation of the statements made by the spokeswoman of the BJP," Saudi Arabia said.

The 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and Pakistan have also criticised India. But the Delhi government criticised both, saying their comments were "unwarranted and narrow-minded".

India's ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, said the remarks from some fringe elements did not represent the views of the Indian government. However, Qatar said it expected a public apology from India.

However, analysts say that BJP is not taking the matter seriously because the party's response may not be enough to stop the growing opposition to Modi’s government. The party and the government should make responsible public statements on the issue without giving a ‘just’ statement over the issue, analysts say.

In another aspect, the BJP government’s lethargy approach to solving the crisis will also risk having an unstable situation in the region due to the presence of the Muslim population in these countries mainly in the South Asian countries. Already the Maldives had condemned the remarks and Pakistan strongly criticised the remarks.

Although the Muslim community in some of the major countries in the Asian region have not publicly shown their opposition to the controversial remarks, the time is not too far to come out them considering the growing global opposition against India’s silence over the issue.

At a time when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) was trying to gain its lost ground as well as to spread its ideology, issues like the Nupur Sharma controversy will help such groups to re-emerge their lost image.

Using such issues, terrorist organisations ability to win the hearts of frustrated Muslims, especially the youth from varied socio-demographic backgrounds has only posed a major threat to international security as well as regional security. Although in India, ISIS has failed to make any meaningful entry, letting growing opposition to the issue will open new entry into India.

In a latest development, a suicide bomber from ISIS, detained in Russia was given the sole task of killing Nupur Sharma, Indian media recently reported quoting top intelligence sources. That was one of the outcomes of the issue.

Analysts say that hate speech and attacks against Muslims have risen since the BJP came to power in 2014. In this background, Sharma’s comments reflect the deep religious polarisation that the country has been witnessing over the past few years.

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