Indian town sets a curfew and orders police to shoot violators after deadly clashes over a mosque

LUCKNOW, India — Authorities in a northern Indian town imposed an indefinite curfew and ordered police to shoot violators after clashes over the construction of a Muslim seminary and a mosque left two people dead and more than 150 injured, officials said Friday.

The violence Thursday also led authorities to shut down internet services and schools in Haldwani, Uttarakhand state government official Chief Radha Raturi said.

The situation was brought under control with nearly 4,000 police officers rushing to the area, said police officer A.P. Anshuman. He said police were ordered to shoot protesters violating the curfew.

On Thursday, thousands of protesters tried to block government officials and police who arrived to demolish the seminary and mosque following a court order that the structures were being built on government land without local authorization, Anshuman said.

As violence escalated, police fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse protesters using petrol bombs and stones to attack a police station and set several vehicles on fire, Anshuman said.

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Government administrator Vandana Singh Chauhan said two people died in the violence, over 150 police officers were injured and several people were hospitalized.

Anshuman did not say whether police fire killed the protesters. He also didn’t identify the religion of the victims.

Abhinav Kumar, the state director-general of police, said the situation in the town was tense but under control Friday with protesters dispersed.

Haldwani is about 270 kilometers (170 miles) northeast of New Delhi.

Muslim groups have accused India’s Hindu-nationalist government of using bulldozers to demolish their homes and businesses in the past.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of looking the other way and sometimes enabling hate speech against Muslims, who comprise 14% of India’s 1.4 billion people.

Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party denies the accusations.