Beliefnet

BOMBAY, India, Sept. 13 (AP) - Police fired into a crowd of Hindus and Muslims who clashed Wednesday during a religious ceremony in western India, and at least 62 people were hurt, a state official said.

Four people were hit by bullets when police fired in the air to disperse rioters in Nanded, nearly 700 miles from New Delhi, said Mohan Patil, additional home secretary of the state of Maharashtra.

Twenty-one people were admitted to a Nanded hospital. Paramilitary forces were called to help police and a curfew was imposed, authorities said. Police arrested 28 people.

The Hindus and Muslims clashed during an immersion ceremony of the idol of Ganesh, the Hindu elephant-headed god of prosperity.

Thousands of Ganesh idols are taken out in colorful processions winding through the streets of western Indian towns and villages at the end of the 10-day Ganesh Chathurthi festival. The idols are then immersed in the Arabian Sea or in nearby rivers.

The parades often pass through Muslim neighborhoods, leading to violence. The procession Wednesday was passing through the Jama mosque area when some Muslims at the mosque objected to Hindu religious songs being played on loudspeakers, Patil said.

They threw stones at the marchers, who turned violent when one rock hit the statue. The 10,000-person Hindu procession then attacked the mosque.

A policeman fired three rounds in the air to disperse the rioters. As news of the firing spread, riots broke out in different parts of the town. Police fired 11 rounds at a violent crowd, injuring four men, Patil said.

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