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Moslem Groups Appeal for End to Riots

December 10, 1986

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Three Moslem groups appealed Tuesday for an end to the rioting and arson that have wracked Karnataka state since publication of a newspaper article that Moslems considered an insult.

In a joint statement, the All-Indian Moslem Personal Law Protection Committee, the All-India Moslem Front and the Karnataka Moslem Conference called on fellow Moslems ″to maintain peace and communal harmony.″

Their appeal came shortly after police killed one person and wounded three others when they opened fire to disperse 3,000 Moslems protesting in Tumkur, the United News of India reported.

Tumkur is 36 miles northwest of Bangalore, the state capital where Moslem rioting first broke out Sunday over a story published in the local Deccan Herald, which Moslems said insulted Mohammed, the prophet of Islam.

The latest death brought the three-day toll to 16, police said. They earlier had reported more deaths, but said they had miscounted.

Scores of demonstrators have been injured in confrontations with police and at least 700 people have been arrested, including 520 in the ancient temple city of Mysore, the news agency said.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew was reinstated Tuesday in Mysore, 80 miles southwest of Bangalore, where arson and looting persisted for a second day.

In Bangalore, several minor stone-throwing incidents were reported. But Police Commissioner Balakrishna Rau said the city was ″fast returning to normal.″

Rioting started after the Deccan Herald on Sunday published P.K.N. Namboodiri’s short story of a family’s problems with a mentally retarded son. The story, first published 10 years ago, was headlined ″Mohammed the Idiot″ and included a reference to the prophet.

The paper’s editor, legislator Yeshwant Kumar, and publisher Anantha Ramu were arrested Monday and charged with promoting communal enmity. Both were released on bail.

On Tuesday, the newspaper announced it would pay the equivalent of $1,923 to families of people killed in rioting and $923 to those wounded by police shots.

A fire apparently set by an arsonist in the paper’s newsprint warehouse was brought under control Tuesday after 15 hours, United News of India reported. It caused $770,000 in losses and damage, the agency said.

India’s chief law enforcement officer, Home Minister Buta Singh, urged Moslems to accept much-publicized apologies from the paper.

″While we share the sense of hurt of our Moslem brethren, I would appeal to them to accept the unconditional apology of the editor of the newspaper,″ he said.

About 11 percent of India’s 780 million people are Moslems. More than 82 percent are Hindu and the rest are Sikhs, Jains, Christians and others.

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