Indian authorities have detained a youth leader from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party for making anti-Muslim remarks.
India: Police in northern India arrested a Hindu nationalist governing party youth leader for making anti-Muslim comments on social media after another party official’s insulting statements about the Prophet Muhammad sparked a diplomatic row, officials said on Wednesday.
Harshit Srivastava, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing, was arrested in Kanpur city last week when communal tensions erupted during a Muslim demonstration over anti-Islam remarks.
“We detained a local politician for making provocative remarks against Muslims,” Prashant Kumar, a senior police official, said, adding that at least 50 individuals had been arrested in Kanpur as a result of the tensions.
Srivastava’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Following BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma’s comments against the Prophet during a television debate, sporadic violence was reported in different regions of the country.
According to the BJP, she has been suspended from the party, while another spokesman, Naveen Kumar Jindal, has been expelled for statements he made on social media concerning Islam.
Leaders from Islamic countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan requested apologies from the Indian government and summoned diplomats to protest the anti-Islam sentiments.
The remarks came in the midst of an increasingly severe culture of hatred toward Islam in India, as well as systematic harassment of Muslims, according to the influential 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The insulting tweets and comments, India’s foreign ministry stated on Monday, did not reflect the government’s views.
The disagreement has turned into a diplomatic problem for Modi, who has built strong ties with energy-rich Islamic countries in recent years.
Several members of his Hindu nationalist party have been told to be “very cautious” when discussing religion on public platforms.
Members of an Indian Islamic rights group said it was the first time significant international figures spoke out against what they called the minority community’s humiliation.
“Now that our voices have been heard, only world leaders can nudge Modi’s government and party to modify their attitudes toward Muslims,” said Ali Asghar Mohammed, who runs a Muslim rights group in Mumbai.