Curfew Imposed in Indian Jammu After Hindu-Muslim Clashes

The Indian army and police enforced a curfew for a fourth day in parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in an effort to restore calm after clashes between Hindu and Muslim communities left three people dead.

The state government imposed curfews in seven out of 10 of Jammu’s districts, Deputy Inspector General of Police Shakeel Beigh said in an interview. Security forces are patrolling streets, while roads into Jammu are closed and schools and colleges have been shut, he said.

“The situation is under control and things are starting to return to normal,” Beigh said. “We will assess the situation and if things continue to remain calm then we will consider lifting the curfews today.”

Violence erupted after prayers to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Aug. 9 in the district of Kishtwar. Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, appealed for calm and announced that a judicial inquiry will be held.

The deaths follow rising tension between India and Pakistan in Kashmir after five Indian soldiers were killed last week along the border that divides the region between the two countries. Pakistan’s foreign ministry in a statement rejected charges the nation’s military was involved as baseless and unfounded.

India accuses Pakistan of aiding an insurgency that began in 1989 in Indian-held Kashmir, a fight which has seen demands both for independence and unification with Pakistan.

Civilian Death

Pakistan’s foreign ministry in a statement today expressed its concern over “ceasefire violations” by Indian border troops. The ministry summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to protest the killing of a civilian today, according to the statement.

Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said the confrontation in Kishtwar began at 10:15 a.m. when about 500 Muslims gathered and some of them began calling for freedom from Indian rule. During a procession, there was a clash with a member of the Hindu community, Chidambaram, the former home minister, said in a statement to parliament today.

Scuffles between groups of Muslims and Hindus escalated into stone pelting and arson with shops, home and vehicles set ablaze. The security forces responded with a baton charge, tear gas and firing in a few places, Chidambaram said. Clashes erupted in other parts of the town and the army was called in around midday, he said.

The violence spread to other areas in the state. Two Muslims and one Hindu were killed and 29 people, including three security personnel were injured, Chidambaram said.

Authorities prevented senior politicians from traveling to the riot-hit area in a step described as necessary to ease tension. Arun Jaitley, a leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, was denied entry to the region of Kishtwar yesterday.

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