Harshit Srivastava, who was arrested in Uttar Pradesh state, is accused of making inflammatory remarks against Muslims, police say.

Anti-Muslim remarks by BJP functionaries have sparked protests in India and triggered a diplomatic backlash from several Muslim countries.
Anti-Muslim remarks by BJP functionaries have sparked protests in India and triggered a diplomatic backlash from several Muslim countries. (AP)

Police in northern India have arrested a youth leader from the Hindu nationalist ruling party for posting anti-Muslim comments on social media.

Harshit Srivastava, a youth leader from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was arrested in Kanpur city of Uttar Pradesh state on Tuesday.

The action comes at a time when derogatory remarks by another party official about the Prophet Muhammad has led to a diplomatic furore.

Communal tensions erupted last week during a protest by Muslims to denounce the anti-Muslim comments.

"We arrested the local politician for making inflammatory remarks against Muslims," said Prashant Kumar, a senior police official, adding that at least 50 people were taken into custody following the tensions in Kanpur.

Srivastava's lawyer was not available for a comment.

Sporadic unrest was reported in other parts of the country after the comments against the Prophet by BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma during a television debate.

She has been suspended from the party while another spokesperson, Naveen Kumar Jindal, expelled over comments he made about Islam on social media, the BJP has said.

READ MORE: India faces uproar after ruling BJP officials insult Prophet Muhammad

Diplomatic row

Domestic outrage gained fresh momentum after leaders from Islamic nations such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan demanded apologies from the Indian government.

They summoned Indian diplomats to protest the anti-Muslim remarks.

The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said in a statement that the insults came in the context of an increasingly intense atmosphere of hatred toward Muslims in India and their systematic harassment.

India's foreign ministry said on Monday the offensive tweets and comments did not in any way reflect the government's views.

The controversy has become a diplomatic challenge for Modi, who in recent years has cemented strong ties with energy-rich Islamic nations.

Instructions have been issued to several members of his Hindu nationalist party to be "extremely cautious" when talking about religion on public platforms.

"Our voices have finally been heard, only world leaders can nudge Modi's government and his party to change their attitude towards Muslims," said Ali Asghar Mohammed, who runs a voluntary rights group for Muslims in Mumbai city.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies