The BJP today suspended Nupur Sharma, the party’s spokesperson, from primary membership with immediate effect, while distancing itself from her alleged inflammatory comments against Prophet Mohammed during a television debate on the Gyanvapi Mosque issue.
Arun Singh, the BJP’s general secretary, said in a strongly worded statement that the party is committed to democracy.
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 Naveen Kumar Jindal, the Delhi media in-charge, for reportedly posting a tweet about the Prophet but afterwards deleting it.
The statement comes in the wake of huge Muslim protests both inside and outside the country, and is one of the few the BJP has published to either disavow or distance itself from any statement made by a spokesman or a leader. It comes after RSS president Mohan Bhagwat questioned the necessity to hunt for a “Shivling in every Masjid,” and is meant to send a strong message to party leaders.
Sharma has been charged with several counts of injuring religious sensibilities during a television news debate on the Gyanvapi topic.
On Friday, rioters allegedly began stone-pelting in Kanpur in response to Sharma’s statements. Several people were hurt during the clashes, including police officers.
According to reports, the speech sparked a social media response in Muslim-majority countries, which could explain why the BJP issued the statement in English. After “insulting remarks against Prophet Mohammad” by Sharma, described as “PM Modi’s close aide,” some superstores in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain reportedly “removed Indian items.”
According to sources, the subject was also discussed at party president JP Nadda’s ‘Know BJP’ conference with ambassadors and high commissioners, which included Turkey.
“Every faith has flowered and flourished throughout India’s thousands of years of history,” Arun Singh declared unequivocally. All religions are respected by the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP vehemently condemns any religious personalities of any religion being insulted.
“Every citizen of India has the right to practice any religion of his or her choosing, as well as to honor and respect all religions.”
“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.”