Hundreds arrested after India sectarian riot

Police block internet to stop clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat sparked by “distorted” image of Mecca.

Gujarat's government sent riot police to control the violence in Vadodara [Reuters]

More than 200 people have been arrested after one man was stabbed and more than a dozen others injured as Hindus and Muslims clashed in the Indian state of Gujarat over a post on Facebook, officials have said

Police said on Monday they sent riot squads to quell weekend violence in the city of Vadodara and cut mobile telephone, internet and text messaging services to stop the violence spreading.

The rioting began on Thursday after an image distributed on Facebook and other internet services that some Muslims considered offensive to Islam, said a senior administration official in the city.

Hindus and Muslims pelted each other with stones and set several cars alight until police dispersed them using tear gas on Saturday evening, police told Reuters.

The AFP news agency quoted local Indian newspapers as saying the post was a “distorted” image of Mecca. Police told AFP that the man how posted the image was among those arrested.

India has a history of sectarian violence, especially between the Hindu majority and Muslims. At least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died during a month of rioting in Gujarat in 2002. 

Critics say Narendra Modi, the current prime minister who was the state’s chief minister at the time, did not do enough to stop the violence. Courts have found insufficient evidence to back that up.

A US non-profit filed a civil lawsuit on Thursday, timed to Modi’s trip to New York and Washington, and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for alleged crimes against humanity over the 2002 riots.

Source: Reuters