India: Multiple States Impose Curfews After Muslims Attack Hindu Processions

Violent clashes between Muslims and Hindus broke out across the Indian states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand on Sunday during local observances of a Hindu religious festival, prompting authorities in two of the three states to impose curfews or gathering bans later Sunday, the Times of India reported on Monday.

Communities across Hindu-majority India held celebrations on April 10 to honor the birth of the Hindu lord Ram, or the physical incarnation of the top Hindu deity Vishnu. In the Gujarat municipality of Himmatnagar, local Muslim residents reportedly began hurling stones at a Ram procession, triggering mass violence. The Indian news site OpIndia provided a detailed account of the events on April 10, writing:

A Ram Navami Shobha Yatra or procession … in Gujarat was targeted by some local Muslim goons and stones were pelted at it. Apart from stone-pelting, some vehicles were also vandalized in this incident.

The incident happened in the afternoon when the Ram Navami procession was passing through a Muslim majority locality named Chhapariya. The procession … was attacked when the Hindu religious procession reached the Muslim dominated area. Several vehicles, which were part of the Ram Navami procession, were damaged in the attack, and one open Jeep was burnt by the attackers.

A local government official in Himmatnagar named Hitesh Koya imposed a gathering ban on Sunday evening in response to the violence. The order prohibits groups greater than five people from gathering in public and will remain in force through April 13.

A separate but similar incident occurred in the Gujarat city of Khambhat (located roughly 100 miles south of Himmatnagar) on April 10. Khambhat Muslims attacked a local Ram procession with stones and incited violence that killed at least one person, according to local reports. Police in Khambhat confirmed on April 11 that they had arrested nine people involved in the unrest, including Hindu priests.

More than 35 people were wounded in yet another Muslim attack on a Ram procession in the state of Madhya Pradesh on April 10.

The Times of India reported on the situation in the central Indian state on Monday, writing:

Curfew was clamped in the entire Khargone city of Madhya Pradesh after stones hurled at a Ram Navami procession here triggered arson and torching of some vehicles and houses, a senior official said on Monday. The incident took place on Sunday when devotees were celebrating Ram Navami. Police had to fire tear gas shells to control the situation.

Following the incident, curfew was clamped in the entire Khargone city on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, Khargone Collector [District Magistrat] Anugrah P said.

Citizens have been asked to step out of home only for medical emergency, she said, adding that the situation is under control.

At least half a dozen people were wounded through stone-pelting incidents in Jharkand state’s Hirahi-Hendlaso village on April 10 during another tragic Muslim attack on a Hindu Ram festival. Two of the people injured in the assault remained in the hospital as of Monday listed in “critical condition,” according to the Times of India.

“As per the information, some people started pelting stone on crowd during Ram Navami procession in the area. This led to a stampede and more than half a dozen people were injured [sic],” the newspaper relayed.

“Later people from both sides started pelting stones. As tension escalated, more than a dozen motorcycles and a pickup van were set on fire at the fair. Two houses have also been set ablaze near Bhogta Garden,” according to the publication.

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