India arrests 140 for Hindu-Muslim clashes as PM Modi tours U.S.

September 29, 2014
(A Rapid Action Force (RAF) member fires a tear gas shell to disperse a mob after clashes in Vadodara in the western Indian state of Gujarat September 26, 2014. Authorities in India's Gujarat state arrested at least 40 people after late-night clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Vadodara and suspended mobile phone Internet and bulk text messaging services for four days, officials said on Sunday. Picture taken September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer )

(A Rapid Action Force (RAF) member fires a tear gas shell to disperse a mob after clashes in Vadodara in the western Indian state of Gujarat September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

Police in western India have arrested 140 people after two men were stabbed during violence between Hindus and Muslims that left more than a dozen injured and was triggered by an image posted on Facebook, officials said on Monday.

The violence in the state of Gujarat coincides with a visit to the United States by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is set to meet President Barack Obama later on Monday on a trip emphasizing India’s economic potential.

For almost a decade Modi was unwelcome in the United States after Washington revoked his visa in 2005 over accusations of religious intolerance stemming from riots three years earlier in Gujarat, when he was the state’s chief minister.

Gujarat’s government deployed riot police to control the clashes in the city of Vadodara over the weekend and appealed to religious leaders to intervene to curb them. Mobile telephone Internet and bulk text messaging has been suspended for four days as a precautionary step.

“We arrested 140 people on Sunday evening after two men were stabbed,” the city’s police commissioner, E. Radhakrishnan, said. “The injured are under medical observation and those who have been arrested are being interrogated.”

Trouble was sparked by an image widely distributed on social media website Facebook that some Muslims considered offensive to Islam, said a senior administration official in the city.

India has a dark history of religious violence, especially between the Hindu majority and Muslims, who account for more than 150 million people, making India the world’s third most populous Muslim nation.

Read the full story by Rupam Jain NairĀ here.

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