India is under increasing pressure to take action after comments by top officials from the country’s ruling party sparked fury in the Muslim world, riots at home and threats from Al Qaeda.
Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, both spokespeople for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, made speculative remarks that were seen as insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and his wife, Aisha.
A complaint was filed against Sharma, who commented on the prophet’s private life in a recent TV debate, for “inciting people on divisive lines,” Delhi Police said Thursday on Twitter. Filing a complaint, the first step in any police investigation in India, is typically followed by an interrogation of the accused.
Following her TV appearance, Sharma said on Twitter that her comment about the prophet had been in response to “continuous insult and disrespect” toward a Hindu god and that she had withdrawn her statement. But the BJP suspended her that day, anyway.
Jindal, whom the party also expelled Sunday over comments he made about Islam on social media, said on Twitter that he was not against any religion.
But their comments had already drawn accusations of blasphemy in some Middle Eastern countries, leaving New Delhi struggling to contain the fallout.
As calls for a boycott of Indian goods surfaced on social media, several countries — including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar — lodged official protests against India.
And after a letter attributed to Al Qaeda was circulated among Indian media groups this week warning of Islamist attacks to avenge the remarks, the government tightened public security.
Protests were also held this week in Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and other major cities./CBC