BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: South Asia
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 15 March, 2002, 16:16 GMT
MP faces trial in relic row
Protests in Srinagar
Protests outside Srinagar's Grand Mosque
The authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir say they will bring a criminal case against a politician alleged to have questioned the authenticity of a holy Muslim relic.

There have been three days of protests in Kashmir after Vinay Katiar was reported as saying that a relic Muslims believe to be a hair from the beard of the Prophet Mohammad came from a Hindu holy man.

The authorities said the report contained words that "promote or attempt to promote feelings of enemity and hatred and also insult or attempt to insult the religion of Islam".

Staff working for Mr Katiyar - a member of parliament for the Bharatiya Janata Party - say he has denied making the comments.

They were printed in Tuesday's edition of the Asian Age newspaper.


The Kashmir Bar Association said a case would be filed in a court in Srinagar on Saturday.

Much of Kashmir was brought to a halt on Friday after students called a strike in protest at Mr Katiyar's reported comments.

Srinagar protests
Students led Friday's protests

Many shops, banks, schools and government offices were closed.

The holy hair is housed Srinagar's Hazratbal shrine.

Security was increased around the Hazratbal shrine for fear of disturbances after Friday prayers.

The hair "must be returned" to Hindus, Mr Katiyar is alleged to have said.

Earlier, Kashmir's Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, called for the police to take action against Mr Katiyar.

"I would say such persons should be arrested as they pose a threat to the nation's unity."

Muslims believe the hair was brought to Kashmir by a local trader in the 17th century.

Friday was the third day of protests against Mr Katiyar.

Kashmir is the only state in India with a Muslim majority.

Mr Katiyar's reported comments have been denounced both by groups in the state wanting to break away from India and those wishing to retain the status quo.

The dispute comes as relations between Hindus and Muslims in other parts of India have come under greater strain due to the controversy over the disputed holy site at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

See also:

07 Feb 02 | South Asia
Vajpayee hits back at Pakistan
22 Dec 01 | South Asia
Kashmir killings prompt security review
18 Mar 02 | South Asia
Three killed 'in Pakistani shelling'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories