Protests broke out in at least three districts of Bihar on Friday over derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed by BJP’s suspended spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal.
Processions were taken out, after the Friday namaaz, in Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur and Nawada districts where the protestors blocked roads for several hours, police said.
In Arrah, the town where Bhojpur is headquartered, slogans were raised in the vicinity of Badi Masjid, demanding the arrest of Sharma and Jindal.
According to the Town police station in-charge Ram Vilas Chaudhary, the protesters, who marched from Badi Masjid to Gopali Chowk, did not indulge in violence but raised “inflammatory slogans with religious overtones”, which triggered tension in the area, prompting many shopkeepers to down their shutters.
No FIR was lodged nor was any arrest made, he added.
In communally-sensitive Nawada, a large number of youngsters staged a demonstration at the Sadbhavana Chowk in the district headquarters town after the namaz.
They stood there for some time, raising slogans denouncing Sharma and Jindal and demanding their immediate arrest, and proceeded towards the highway.
On National Highway 31, they placed burning tyres on the road, disrupting traffic on the busy Patna-Ranchi route on which a long queue of vehicles could be seen.
The protests were withdrawn after a couple of hours, when the protesters were persuaded to allow resumption of traffic by a police team, led by Sub Divisional Police Officer, Sadar, Upendra Prasad.
North of the Ganges, protests were reported from Muzaffarpur where demonstrators converged at the Pakki Sarai Chowk after the namaaz, and proceeded towards NH 28, raising slogans and carrying posters and banners.
Their demonstration led to a huge traffic snarl on the road connecting the north Bihar town to adjacent Samastipur.
A police team led by Afghan Ali, sub-inspector in-charge of Maniyari police station, spoke to the protesters, some of whom claimed there was a call for “Bihar bandh”.
One of the protesters, Osama Ali, claimed that messages with regard to “Bihar bandh” were posted on the social media by “leaders of our community”.
Meanwhile, the state BJP alleged that its senior leader Nitin Nabin, a minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, was attacked by protesters in neighbouring Jharkhand.
State BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal issued a statement alleging that the vehicle of Nabin, who holds the crucial road development portfolio, was attacked by protesters at Ranchi “in what appears to be a pre-planned conspiracy”.
Demanding action against the attackers by the Hemant Soren government in the neighboring state, Jaiswal claimed that it was “not a mere coincidence that people took to the streets immediately after the Friday namaz”.
Shivanand Tiwary, national vice president of the opposition RJD, issued a statement condemning the attack on Nabin, though he asserted that the outbursts were a reflection of the “worrisome state of the nation under the Narendra Modi regime”.
“The attack on Nitin Nabin will only weaken the cause of the protesters… the Prime Minister, by his acts of commission and omission has emboldened elements involved in incidents like use of foul language against Mahatma Gandhi, forcing of Muslims to chant Jai Shri Ram and call for genocide of the minority community at Dharm Sansad,” alleged Tiwary, a veteran socialist leader.