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Tensions rise in Indian state after attacks on Muslims

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Tensions were high in parts of India’s northeastern Indian state of Tripura on Friday after a series of attacks on Muslim minorities seen as retaliation for violence against Hindus in Bangladesh neighbor at the beginning of the month.

State authorities have deployed police and paramilitary troops and have banned the gathering of more than five people in areas where attacks have been reported.

Police said at least one mosque, several shops and houses owned by Muslims in the north of the state had been vandalized since Tuesday. No deaths have been reported.

“Some troublemakers are determined to disrupt peace and community harmony in Tripura,” Senior Police Officer Bhanupada Chakraborty said, adding that the situation was under control.

Muslim leaders said Hindu mobs attacked mosques and torched their properties following a protest rally on Tuesday by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or VHP, an outright Hindu nationalist group linked to the Bharatiya Janata party of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It is not known whether the attackers were members of the VHP.

Vinod Bansal, the national spokesperson for the VHP, denied that its members were involved in the attacks.

“We didn’t attack anyone. We are peacefully protesting against the anti-Hindu attacks in Bangladesh, ”he said.

In Bangladesh, at least six Hindus were killed and hundreds of homes and businesses burned down on October 13 after an image posted on social media was seen as insulting to the country’s Muslim majority. The violence has also led to protests in India.

The Bangladeshi government reacted quickly after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised to “hunt down” the attackers. He has so far arrested around 300 people.

Mr Chakraborty said Tripura police had recorded cases following the attacks, but did not specify against whom. No arrests have been made so far.

Vinod Sonkar, an MP from Modi’s party that rules Tripura state, said the government had set up a committee to investigate the violence.

Tripura borders Bangladesh and Muslims make up less than 9% of the state’s nearly 4 million people.

Mohammad Salam, a Muslim cleric from the town of Panisagar in northern Tripura, said hundreds of VHP members chanting anti-Muslim slogans stormed a mosque on Tuesday and ransacked it. He said they also burned down several Muslim properties.

“We have been living in fear ever since,” Salam said.


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