Police arrested 31 people after rare religious clashes in India

Police arrested 31 people Friday following clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in India 's northern Ladakh region, an official said. Seven policemen were injured in street battles with the rioters Thursday, Inspector-General of Police K. Rajendra Kumar told The Associated Press by telephone. He said two homes belonging to Muslim residents were burned down.

The clashes in Buddhist-majority Ladakh began Monday when Muslims alleged that activists of the Ladakh Buddhist Association forced their way into a mosque in the region's Kargil town and desecrated copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book. The group denied the allegation.

Authorities enacted a curfew Wednesday to rein in the protesters, but clashes erupted between Muslims and Buddhists soon after it was lifted later in that night Police arrested 31 people on Friday in Leh, the region's main town, Kumar said, bringing the total of those arrested in the violence to at least 51.

Army, paramilitary troops and police were patrolling streets in the region to prevent further violence, Kumar said. The clashes between Muslims and Buddhists were the first in many years in Ladakh, a normally peaceful Buddhist-majority region popular with trekkers in the northwestern part of India 's troubled Jammu-Kashmir state.

The mountainous region has been wracked by a separatist insurgency for 16 years that has left more than 67,000 people dead. The Buddhist-Muslim riots occurred far from the fighting, reports the AP.


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