New Delhi, June 5
Cracking the whip, the BJP today suspended party spokesperson Nupur Sharma from the primary membership of the party with immediate effect while distancing itself from her alleged inflammatory comments against Prophet Mohammed in a television debate on the Gyanvapi Mosque issue.
Issuing a strongly worded statement, party general secretary Arun Singh said the BJP is “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion and does not promote such people or philosophy.”
Though Singh did not name anyone or the context, the party’s central disciplinary committee issued a letter to Sharma saying that she had “expressed views contrary to the party’s position on various issues, which is in clear violence of Rule 10 (a) of the constitution of the party.”
“I have been directed to convey to you that pending further inquiry, you are suspended from the party, and your responsibilities/assignments if any, with immediate effect,” member secretary Om Pathak said.
The party also suspended Delhi media in-charge Naveen Kumar Jindal, who allegedly posted a tweet about the Prophet but later deleted it.
The statement, one of the rare ones the BJP has issued either to retract or distance itself from any statement of a spokesperson or a leader, comes in the wake of widespread protests by Muslims inside and outside the country. Aimed at sending a clear message to party leaders, it follows RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat questioning the need to look for a “Shivling in every Masjid”.
Several cases have been registered against Sharma for hurting religious sentiments during the television news debate on the Gyanvapi issue.
Violence erupted in Kanpur on Friday as mobs allegedly started stone pelting over Sharma’s remarks. Several persons, including police personnel, were injured during the clashes.
Reports also suggest social media backlash in Muslim majority nations over the statement, a reason perhaps the BJP issued the statement in English. Some superstores in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain reportedly “removed Indian products” after “insulting remarks against Prophet Mohammad” by Sharma, described as “PM Modi’s close aide” trended.
Sources claim the issue also found mention in party president JP Nadda’s ‘Know BJP’ meeting with Ambassadors/High Commissioners, including Turkey.
Arun Singh stated categorically, “During the thousands of years of history of India every religion has blossomed and flourished. The Bharatiya Janata Party respects all religions. The BJP strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities of any religion.
“India's Constitution gives the right to every citizen to practice any religion of his or her choice and to honour and respect every religion.
“As India celebrates 75th year of its Independence, we are committed to making India a great country where all are equal and everyone lives with dignity, where all are committed to India's unity and integrity, where all enjoy the fruits of growth and development,” he added.
Seeking immediate action, complaints against Sharma in different parts of the country alleged she used “abusive, false and hurtful words against the Prophet and religion of Islam and hurt the feelings of Muslims”.
Though Sharma claimed that she has been receiving death and rape threats on social media after a “so-called fact-checker” circulated a “heavily edited video” from the debate. “Ever since I've been receiving death and rape threats, including beheading threats against me and family members,” she was quoted as saying.
Citing security threat to their families, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal urged media to not make their address public after their suspension letters with respective home addresses went viral on the social media.
Meanwhile, Nupur Sharma has issued a clarification on Twitter, unconditionally withdrawing her statement. She stated that "it was never my intention to hurt anyone's religious feelings."
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