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Police arrest 36 people following clashes at religious procession in eastern India

A senior state police official said on Friday that at least 36 people were arrested in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal after violent clashes disrupted a religious procession.

According to the official, a few vehicles were set on fire and some shops were ransacked on Thursday as warring groups threw stones at each other in a neighborhood of the industrial city of Howrah before police and security forces secured the area.

Skirmishes continued on Friday in Howrah’s Shibpur district, where Hindus and Muslims have coexisted for generations, according to an official who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the clashes began on Thursday when a procession commemorating the Hindu festival of Ram Navami detoured to an unauthorized area.

According to a senior police official, stones were thrown at the procession as it passed through Shibpur.

Banerjee stated that there were lapses on the part of the police and that severe action would be taken.

A request for comment from state police was not immediately returned.

Suvendu Adhikari, a state leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said at least ten party workers were injured in the clashes and that police stood by as “spectators” during the violence.
Meanwhile, police arrested 22 people on Friday in Vadodara, Gujarat, for rioting and stone-throwing during a Ram Navami procession on Thursday. The violence injured six police officers and five other people, according to police.

“In the Fatehpura area of the city, a large mob resorted to stone pelting and damaged public property, including some vehicles,” M.L. Ninama, joint commissioner of Vadodara police, told Reuters.

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