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Hindu, Moslems Clash in Two Towns

December 8, 1990

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Hindus and Moslems clashed in a central city Saturday, and news reports said at least seven people died, including four passengers dragged from a train by a mob.

The clashes in Aligarh, 80 miles southeast of New Delhi, forced the city adminstration to call for army reinforcements and impose an indefinite curfew, United News of India said.

Fighting also broke out in the southern city of Hyderabad, and UNI said one person was slain.

At least 380 people have been killed in Hindu-Moslem violence in the last two months after Hindu fundamentalists announced plans to take over a mosque and replace it with a temple.

The deaths in Aligarh brought the total number of people killed in sectarian violence in the city since Friday to at least 16, Press Trust of India and UNI said.

The news agencies did not name the victims. Indian media prohibit identification of victims or the perpetrators of sectarian violence for fear that it will exacerbate further tensions.

UNI said the city adminstration called the army to help the police and imposed an indefinite curfew restricting people to their homes. It was not immediately known what caused the clashes.

Among the victims were four passengers of a train who were dragged out and killed by a mob, UNI said.

In the Hindu temple town of Ayodhya, the flashpoint of a lingering dispute between India’s Hindu majority and Moslem minority, at least 1,200 Hindu fundamentalists allowed themselves to be arrested on Saturday as part of a campaign to replace the disputed mosque with a temple.

″Courting″ arrest is a traditional form of protest in India. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people are detained for few hours and then released without charges.

The religious crisis ignited by the Hindu campaign also triggered the downfall of previous Prime Minister V.P. Singh’s government. Singh was replaced Nov. 10 by Chandra Shekhar, who has said he will attempt to defuse the issue by holding talks with religious leaders. The talks have made no real progress.

Hindus say Moslem invaders built the small mosque atop a temple marking the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama. Moslems say it is impossible to pinpoint where Rama was born.

Hindus make up 82 percent of India’s 880 million people. Moslems comprise 12 percent.

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