India on Monday said recent remarks by officials from the country's ruling party that insulted the Muslim Prophet Muhammad do not reflect the views of the government, with the "relevant bodies" taking strong action against these individuals.
Nupur Sharma, the spokeswoman of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had made insulting remarks against the prophet in a TV debate, triggering a wave of condemnation at home and from the Islamic world. The party has since distanced itself from her remarks and suspended the spokeswoman.
Another BJP spokesman, Naveen Kumal Jindal, was expelled from the party over comments he made about Islam on social media. Leaders of Muslim groups in India have called for legal action against Sharma in response to the comments
Muslim groups in Kanpur city of the northern Uttar Pradesh state protested against the BJP spokeswoman's comments on Friday.
On Sunday, Qatar, Kuwait, and Iran summon Indian envoys over the officials' remarks, while Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan also issued statements condemning the remarks.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the International Union of Muslim Scholars also denounced the comments.
In its statement, the OIC noted that the comments came amid an "escalation of hatred and abuse of Islam in India," and pointed to "systematic practices against Muslims and restrictions on them," such as several bans against headscarves in educational institutions, demolitions of Muslim property, and an "increase in violence" against Muslims.
On Monday morning, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi rejected the OIC statement saying it was "unwarranted a narrow-minded."
"Government of India categorically rejects OIC Secretariat's ... comments," the spokesman said, adding that the government "accords the highest respect to all religions."
Bagchi said the tweets and comments "denigrating a religious personality" were made by "certain individuals." He stressed that they "do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India."
"Strong action has already been taken against these individuals by relevant bodies," he said, accusing the OIC Secretariat of making "motivated, misleading and mischievous comments" in the face of the incident.
"This only exposes its divisive agenda being pursued at the behest of vested interests," he said. "We would urge the OIC Secretariat to stop pursuing its communal approach and show due respect to all faiths and religions."
The Indian official also made a statement on Pakistan's condemnation, accusing Islamabad of "engaging in alarmist propaganda and attempting to foment communal disharmony in India."
Pakistan had said it voiced alarm at the "rise in communal violence and hatred against the Muslims in India" and said the measures taken against the officials were "belated and perfunctory."
"Pakistan strongly urges the BJP leadership and the government of India to unequivocally condemn the sacrilegious comments of the BJP officials and ensure that they are held accountable through decisive and demonstrable action against them for attacking the dignity of the Holy Prophet," it added./aa