Schools, colleges and shops remained closed in Meerut in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Monday as authorities tried to quash spiraling clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the city’s Muzaffarnagar district. The riots started on Saturday night and have led to 28 deaths and 50 injuries.
More than 90 people have been arrested and curfews have been imposed in three trouble-prone areas to control the violence, which erupted when some Hindu farmers met to demand justice for the murder of three men from the Kawal village, who had objected to the sexual harassment of a woman.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had appealed for calm and requested people not to “trust or listen to any rumors.”
Uttar Pradesh, with a population of 200 million (out of which 18% are Muslims) witnessed over 100 sectarian incidents in the last year, although not on such a large and bloody scale. It was also the center of India’s worst communal riots in 1992, when Hindu groups had demolished an ancient mosque in Ayodhya and more than 2,000 died as rioting spread throughout the country.