Dozens arrested after religious violence erupts in India over weekend

Dozens of people have been arrested after religious violence engulfed parts of India, including the capital Delhi, over the Easter weekend.

Violent clashes erupted after a procession celebrating the Hindu festival of Hanuman Jayanti – the anniversary of the birth of the Hindu god Hanuman – allegedly attempted on Saturday to wave saffron-coloured flags outside a mosque in the Jahangirpuri area of ​​northern north of Delhi. The color is associated with Hindu nationalist groups in India.

Crowd members were seen brandishing swords and guns and dancing to religious songs. Some youths attempted to wave saffron flags in front of a local mosque, which resulted in stones being thrown from both sides. Shots were fired and vehicles were set on fire, according to Thread.

Hindus and Muslims have accused each other of inciting violence.

Delhi police, which falls under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, have been accused of arbitrarily arresting 23 Muslims, including two minors, from the relatively poor neighborhood following the clashes.

After facing a backlash, Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana said on Monday that eight of those arrested had criminal records. “No one involved will be spared, regardless of class, creed and religion,” he said.

He also denied reports that some people tried to hoist saffron flags at the mosque.

Hindu religious flags outside a mosque in Jahangirpuri after violence during a Hindu religious procession

(APE)

The Jahangirpuri violence was the biggest community outbreak in Delhi in recent weeks, which is still recovering from the scars of 2020 riots that killed at least 50 people.

Similar religious violence erupted in five states across the country earlier this month during celebrations of the Hindu god Ram, prompting questions about right-wing Hindu festivals aimed at targeting minorities.

In the southern Indian city of Hubli, a mob attacked police and vandalized public property on Saturday after a derogatory message targeting Muslims spread on WhatsApp, police said.

At least 88 people are believed to have been arrested in connection with the violence after 12 police officers were injured.

“People gathered again near the police station. The mob threw stones at the police, tried to enter the police station and damaged police vehicles,” said Labhu Ram, a senior police official investigating the incident.

A banning order has been imposed in the city and Karnataka Chief Minister and ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Basavaraj Bommai said action would be taken against the perpetrators.

“We have arrested all the accused and further investigation is ongoing. Action will be taken against the perpetrators after the investigation,” he said, according to news agency ANI.

In a separate incident, riots broke out after a “minor” road accident involving two motorcyclists in the western state of Gujarat on Sunday evening.

Stones were thrown, a shrine was vandalized and at least 10 vehicles were set on fire. Local police arrested 19 people for rioting and three others in connection with the crash.

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