Indian authorities imposed a curfew, suspended internet service and deployed thousands of paramilitary forces on Tuesday to parts of northern Haryana state after deadly communal clashes spread to Gurugram, a city just outside the capital, New Delhi.
The violence began Monday afternoon when Hindus and Muslims clashed with each other in Haryana’s Nuh district during a religious procession by a Hindu nationalist group, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. At least four people, including two police officers, were killed in the clashes.
More than 20 police officers were injured in the violence and dozens of cars were set on fire, a police statement said.
Tensions later spilled over to Gurugram, some 19 miles from New Delhi, where mobs torched a mosque and killed a Muslim cleric late Monday night. Police said some attackers have been arrested.’
There were no reports of fresh violence from either place on Tuesday, but authorities said they had ordered schools and colleges to remain shut as a precautionary measure.
On Tuesday, baton-wielding police marched down the streets of Nuh littered which were with stones and charred vehicles in the areas where clashes took place, as fear-stricken residents remained indoors.
“A large mob destroyed property, cars and hand carts. I stayed indoors to protect my family,” said local resident Mahendra, who only gave his first name.
Another local, Akram Qureshi, said many families abandoned the violence-stricken neighborhoods out of fear.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, condemned the violence in Nuh.
“The guilty will not be spared at any cost. Strictest action will be taken against them,” he said.
The state’s home minister, Anil Vij, alleged the violence was “engineered” and said police will investigate the clashes.
Communal violence in India is not new, with periodic clashes breaking out ever since the British partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, but observers say that religious polarization has risen under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, further deepening fault lines against minorities and heightening tensions.