Some alleged objectionable comments made by a self-proclaimed Hindutva activist against Prophet Muhammad has got Uttar Pradesh simmering, with most districts, especially in the western part of the state, witnessing massive protests by Muslims.
Rallies have also been held in other parts of country, including in Bengaluru and Rajasthan, demanding action against Kamlesh Tiwari, who claims to be the working president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM).
In separate rallies, Shia cleric Mualana Kalbe Jawwad demanded capital punishment for Tiwari in Lucknow, while in Bijnor, Jamiat Shababul Islam’s general secretary Maulana Anwarul Haq announced a reward of Rs 51 lakh on his head.
Two days after he made the comments, Tiwari was arrested in Lucknow on December 2 and is lodged in jail at present.
To maintain calm, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav held a meeting with some prominent Muslim clerics at his residence in Lucknow on Wednesday and assured them of stern action against Tiwari.
Principal secretary (home), Debashish Panda, said reports about protests after Friday prayers have been received from several districts. “All DMs and SPs have been asked to maintain strict vigil keeping an eye on the developments. Presently, the situation is under control,” he added.
On Friday large scale protests were held in Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Moradabad, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Farrukhabad, Lucknow and several other districts. At Deoband, students of Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, too, joined the protests.
Earlier, on December 5, president, All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Rector of Islamic Seminary Nadwatul Uloom, Maulana Rabey Hasan Nadwi had written a letter to Akhilesh asking him to formulate a policy for punishing and discouraging such people who issue statements against other religions.
A day later, Additional Advocate General Zafaryab Jilani, told a gathering of Muslims in Ayodhya that he has requested the CM to invoke NSA against the accused.
Based on CM’s directive, the Lucknow police invoked NSA against Tiwari on January 10.
Tiwari was arrested on December 2 after protests were held in Saharanpur’s Deoband area and in Bijnor district following his controversial statement. The police had denied his links with the ABHM.
Tiwari’s supporters, during a press conference in Lucknow on Friday, had claimed that he had issued the statement in reaction to objectionable comments made by UP’s minority welfare minister Azam Khan against RSS leaders.
Tiwari’s lawyer Mahadev Singh too claimed that his client had issued the statement on November 30, but claimed that “he did not mean” to comment on the Prophet.
A native of Sitapur district, Tiwari had earlier been arrested twice this year. He was arrested on January 30 soon after he announced to construct a temple in honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse in Sitapur. He was again arrested in August for announcing to perform Jalabhishek at Shringar Gauri temple in Varanasi, which is restricted for visitors, and getting Gyanvapi Mosque removed from the Kashi Vishwanath temple area. Prior to that, Tiwari also had allegedly threatened journalists of a news channel in Lucknow while protesting against a show after Afzal Guru’s hanging. Later, a case was lodged against him by those journalists.
Meanwhile, Tiwari’s claim of being working president of ABHM has been denied by other leaders of the outfit. “We condemn his statement. He should not have given such a statement. He does not hold any post in the organisation and there is no need for giving him importance,” Munna Kumar Sharma, claiming to be national general secretary of ABHM, told The Indian Express.
Nand Kishore Mishra, who claims to be working president of protem committee of ABHM, also claimed that Tiwari does not hold any position in the outfit. “Earlier he was state president and then the president of high power committee. However, currently he does not hold any post,” Mishra said.
He, however, claimed that since Tiwari is in “crisis”, the organisation will help him. “For this, we have sought time from UP Governor to apprise him about the situation,” he said.