More protests in India after authorities raze homes of Muslim activists

More protests in India after authorities raze homes of Muslim activists
Students display placards and shout slogans during a demonstration outside the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan in New Delhi on June 13, 2022, to protest against the state government for demolishing the house of a local Muslim leader in Allahabad. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 13 June 2022

More protests in India after authorities raze homes of Muslim activists

More protests in India after authorities raze homes of Muslim activists
  • Derogatory remarks made by ruling party members against Prophet Muhammad have sparked unrest across India
  • Controversial comments follow increasing violence targeting India’s Muslim minority

NEW DELHI: Hundreds protested in New Delhi on Monday after the demolition of homes belonging to Muslim activists in India’s Uttar Pradesh, as demonstrations sparked by remarks by ruling party figures about the Prophet Muhammad erupted across the country.

People have taken to the streets in India in recent weeks to protest against derogatory references about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad made by prominent spokespersons from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which have also caused a diplomatic row with several Muslim countries.

The government has said that the comments do not reflect its views, but protests turned violent last week when two teenagers were killed in the eastern state of Jharkhand. Hundreds of alleged rioters have also been arrested in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where authorities demolished houses of Muslim activists on Sunday.

The demolition sparked further unrest on Monday, as activists and students took part in protests in the Indian capital.

“The government is persecuting Muslims for being Muslim,” Raniya Zulaikha, a protester in New Delhi, told Arab News.

“By targeting protesting Muslims the government is sending the message loud and clear that it is not apologetic to hurt sentiments of the community,” said Zulaikha, who is a member of the Fraternity Movement student group.

Authorities in Uttar Pradesh razed three houses on Sunday, one of which belonged to politician Javed Ahmed, whose daughter, Afreen Fatima, is a prominent Muslim rights activist. Authorities said that Ahmed had built his house illegally and that he had planned the protests in the state last week.

“The main accused, Javed Ahmed, who is the main mastermind of the whole incident — we have acted against his illegal construction,” Ajay Kumar, senior superintendent of police in Prayagraj city of Uttar Pradesh, told reporters.

The controversial remarks made by BJP members followed increasing violence targeting India’s Muslim minority carried out by Hindu nationalists, who have been emboldened by Modi’s regular silences about such attacks since taking office in 2014.

“Since 2014, Muslims in particular and other minorities have been treated as second-class citizens by the present fundamentalist government in India,” Delhi-based human rights activist Ravi Nair, who also protested on Monday, told Arab News.

Officials have previously razed Muslim-owned properties and said that the demolitions targeted illegal buildings and not any particular religious group. However, critics argue that such moves are part of attempts to harass and marginalize Muslims, who represent 14 percent of India’s 1.4 billion population.

“The BJP is using bulldozers to punish vocal Muslims, Muslims who speak for their rights, who resists violence on them,” Apoorvanand Jha, a professor at the University of Delhi, told Arab News.

In Uttar Pradesh, where the demolitions took place, there was fear and apprehension within the Muslim community, said Kulsum Talha, a social activist based in the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow.

“The Muslim minority is feeling that it is being pushed against the wall. It looks like a vendetta by the state government and nothing to do with justice,” Talha told Arab News.

“The atmosphere is not of trust but mistrust all around, especially among minorities,” she said. “They are losing all kinds of hope in administration and law-enforcing agencies.”


Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan
Updated 58 min 4 sec ago

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan
  • The assailants fled the scene and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Gomal

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Gunmen riding on motorcycles opened fire on Tuesday on police escorting a team of polio workers in northwestern Pakistan, killing two policemen, authorities said.
None of the polio workers were harmed, said Mohammad Imran, a local police official. The four polio workers and their police escort were all traveling on motorcycles.
The assailants fled the scene and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Gomal, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.
The attack came on the second day of Pakistan’s latest anti-polio campaign in the province. Pakistan has registered 14 new polio cases since April, all from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The outbreak has been a blow to the Islamic nation’s efforts to eradicate the disease, which can cause severe paralysis in children.
Pakistan’s anti-polio campaigns are regularly marked by violence as Islamic militants often target polio teams and police protecting them, falsely claiming that the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic. In 2021, Pakistan reported only one case, raising hopes it was close to eradicating polio.

Related


Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan
Updated 16 August 2022

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan
  • ‘The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict’
  • ‘We see this as a carefully planned provocation’

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fueling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
“The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fueling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Putin said in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow via videolink.
“The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilize and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world,” he added.
He said the visit was a “brazen demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its (Washington’s) international obligations.”
“We see this as a carefully planned provocation,” Putin said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been in tatters since Russia in late February launched a military intervention in pro-Western Ukraine.
Pummeled by a barrage of unprecedented Western sanctions, Putin has sought to bolster ties with countries in Africa and Asia, especially with China.
Moscow was in full solidarity with key ally Beijing during Pelosi’s August visit to self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which China considers its territory.


Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges
Updated 16 August 2022

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

DUBAI: A Swedish citizen detained in Iran on suspicion of espionage might face other charges, Iranian judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said on Tuesday in a televised news conference.
The suspect, who remains unnamed, had been under surveillance by the intelligence ministry during several previous trips to Iran because of “suspicious behavior,” the official IRNA news agency reported in July.


Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20
Updated 16 August 2022

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20
  • The bus was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi
  • Deadly traffic accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and disregard for traffic laws

MULTAN, Pakistan: A passenger bus rammed into a fuel truck on a highway in eastern Pakistan before dawn on Tuesday, igniting a fire that killed at least 20 people, police and rescue officials said.
According to the officials, the accident happened near the town of Jalalpur Peerwala in Punjab province. The bus was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi.
Tahir Wattoo, a local government official in Multan, the nearest district, said early indications were that the bus driver’s negligence had caused the collision. The driver, who was also killed, slammed into the back of the fuel truck, according to photographs from the scene.
The injured were taken to hospital and at least six passengers were reported in critical condition, he added.
Some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and DNA tests will be conducted to identify the remains before the bodies are handed over to the families, Wattoo also said.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif offered his condolences in a statement and asked health authorities to provide the best possible treatment to the injured.
Deadly traffic accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and disregard for traffic laws.


Armenian blast death toll rises to 16

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16
Updated 16 August 2022

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16
  • Sunday’s blast at the Surmalu wholesale market also injured 60 people
  • Local authorities have excluded the possibility that it was a terror attack

YEREVAN: The death toll from an explosion at a bustling market in the Armenian capital Yerevan rose to 16, Armenia’s emergency situations ministry said on Tuesday.
Sunday’s blast at the Surmalu wholesale market also injured 60 people after it caused a fire and the collapse of a building.
“Sixteen bodies were found during search and rescue efforts,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that 18 people were still missing.
Officials said more than 350 rescuers are at work on the ground.
The cause has not yet been established, but local news reports, citing witnesses, said the explosion went off at a place that stored fireworks.
Local authorities have excluded the possibility that it was a terror attack and prosecutors have already launched a probe into violations “on stocking inflammable goods,” breaches in fire safety standards and the death of people “due to negligence.”
The disaster comes as the country of three million people is still recovering from a 2020 war with Azerbaijan, which ended in a heavy defeat and sparked a political crisis.
Shortly after Sunday’s blast, officials evacuated people from Yerevan metro stations after a bomb threat, but authorities found no explosive device.