Religious tension escalates in Northern Indian town

Tablighi Jamaat clerics allegedly beaten up and robbed, causing mass protests

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Sixteen policemen have been injured during protests in India's Uttar Pradesh province, where the clashes between the province;s Hindu and Muslim communities resulted in the deaths of at least 62 people in 2013.

The protests started after five Tablighi Jamaat clerics were allegedly beaten up and robbed for preaching publicly in a train station near the town Shamli.

According to police, around 5,000 Muslims gathered on the train tracks after the incident, accusing the security forces of failing to help the clerics and protecting their attackers.

The demonstration lasted over an hour, and later turned violent with 16 policemen being injured. The police accused hundreds of protesters, including a state lawmaker from the ruling Samajwadi Party, of damaging rail property and disrupting train services.

None of those involved have been arrested yet.

Local media reported a series of online and text messages which called for violence against Muslims over the weekend; some tweets used the hashtag #GodhraAgain to invoke the attack on a train which triggered the anti-Muslim riots of 2002 in Gujarat.

The clashes between the Hindu and Muslim communities in August–September 2013 has been described as "the worst violence in Uttar Pradesh in recent history." The army was deployed in the state for the first time in last 20 years.

Current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have been accused of inciting the violence against Muslims. Nearly 50,000 riot victims were displaced and settled in relief camps in the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts. Over 6,000 families still live in camps while religious tension escalates.

Uttar Pradesh also saw serious Hindu-Muslim riots in 1992 after the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya by hardline Hindus.

TRTWorld and agencies