Indian police arrest 14 after communal clashes in New Delhi

Violence has broken out between the majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities in recent weeks

Indian Rapid Action Force personnel in Jahangirpuri, New Delhi, on April 17. AFP
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Indian police arrested 14 people in connection with violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims during a Hindu religious procession in the country's capital, New Delhi.

Six officers and others were injured on Saturday during scuffles that marred the procession at a festival in Jahangirpuri, a suburb of New Delhi, police said on Twitter on Sunday

"Remaining rioters are being identified for strict legal action," police said.

There were no reported deaths from the incident.

In recent weeks, violence has broken out between the majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities during religious processions in several parts of the country.

The rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has emboldened hardline religious groups in recent years to take up causes that they say defend the Hindu faith.

But the BJP has denied any rise in communal tensions during Mr Modi's reign.

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in The Economic Times published on Sunday that intolerance among religious communities was not worsening, and he played down recent incidents.

"Fringe elements, who are unable to digest the peace and prosperity in the country, try to defame India's inclusive culture and commitment," Mr Naqvi said.

He said it was not the government's job to dictate diets to people, after university students in New Delhi recently clashed over meat being served in the canteen during a week that Hindus consider auspicious.

"Every citizen has freedom in the country to eat food of their choice," Mr Naqvi said.

He also dismissed concerns about a controversy this month over Muslim students wearing the hijab headscarf to school in the southern state of Karnataka, home to the country's tech-sector capital Bengaluru.

"There is no ban on hijab in India. One can wear hijab in markets and other places," Mr Naqvi said.

"But every college or institution has a dress code, discipline and decorum. We will have to accept this. If you do not like it, you can choose a different institution."

Updated: April 17, 2022, 9:28 PM