31 killed as communal riots flare up in India

31 killed as communal riots flare up in India
Soldiers stand guard on a deserted street during a curfew in Muzaffarnagar, 127 km (80 miles) northeast of New Delhi in the state of Uttar Pradesh September 9, 2013.

INDIA - Thirty-one people were killed over the weekend in the biggest Hindu-Muslim riot in years, raising fears of rising communal tensions ahead of next year's election, which pits the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against the ruling Congress.

In the riot-hit district of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh state on Monday, soldiers continued to patrol streets and carry out door-to-door weapon searches.

People stayed indoors with shops, schools and offices shut as a curfew and shoot-on-sight orders remained in force.

"The situation is currently under control," Mr Arun Kumar, a police official in charge of state law and order, said at a press conference.

Tensions between Hindus and Muslims had been simmering in the area after two Hindu men killed a Muslim man last month for harassing their female cousin.

They were in turned killed by the Muslim man's family, triggering communal unrest in the area. An online video showing mob violence further inflamed sentiments.

Police later said the video contained old footage.

Federal Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said intelligence agencies had warned of rising communal violence in 11 of India's 29 states.

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