A Hindu nationalist governing party youth leader has been arrested in northern India for making anti-Muslim statements on social media.
On Tuesday, Harshit Srivastava, a youth leader in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was arrested in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
The move comes after a diplomatic uproar over disparaging remarks about the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) made by another party official.
Last week, conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims erupted during a march to decry anti-Muslim remarks.
“We detained a local politician for making provocative remarks against Muslims,” Prashant Kumar, a senior police official, said, adding that at least 50 individuals had been arrested in Kanpur as a result of the tensions.
Srivastava’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
Following BJP spokeswoman Nupur Sharma’s comments against the Prophet during a television debate, sporadic violence was reported in different regions of the country.
According to the BJP, she has been suspended from the party, while another spokesperson, Naveen Kumar Jindal, has been removed due to comments he made regarding Islam on social media.
Leaders from Islamic countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan requested apologies from the Indian government, reigniting domestic indignation.
They summoned Indian officials to express their displeasure with the anti-Muslim comments.
The remarks came in the midst of an increasingly severe atmosphere of hatred toward Muslims in India, according to the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in a statement.
The insulting tweets and comments, India’s foreign ministry stated on Monday, did not reflect the government’s views.
The disagreement has turned into a diplomatic problem for Modi, who has built strong ties with energy-rich Islamic countries in recent years.
Several members of his Hindu nationalist party have been told to be “very cautious” when discussing religion on public platforms.
“Now that our voices have been heard, only world leaders can nudge Modi’s government and party to modify their attitudes toward Muslims,” said Ali Asghar Mohammed, who runs a Muslim rights group in Mumbai.