Sectarian Violence in India Leaves 28 Dead

Religious clashes in Muzaffarnagar, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, have left at least 28 people dead, leading to Indian army soldiers being deployed to take control of the situation.

Sectarian violence which began late Saturday escalated over the weekend in Northern India, with gunfire and street fighting killing 28 locals and injuring at least another 50. 800 troops have been sent to the area, with the order to shoot any rioters on site, according to state government official Kamal Saxena. Already, over 100 people have been arrested for inciting violence.

"A curfew has been imposed in three riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar. The situation is still very tense, but under control,'' a senior Uttar Pradesh official said to the Associated Press.

The clashes reportedly began Saturday night in villages around Muzaffarnagar, after a gathering of thousands of Hindus was held to protest the killing of three men on August 27, and where officials said some farmers delivered hate-speeches against Muslims. The men were killed after they spoke out against the alleged verbal harassment of a local woman.

Following the meeting, violence erupted between those at the meeting and local Muslims.

"The attackers seemed well planned. Some were armed with rifles and sharp-edged weapons," said a man who was present.

India has seen a rise in sectarian violence, with 451 incidents reported this year —compared to 410 for all of 2012, federal minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said.