October 17, 2005

India stops trains to riot-hit town; fears attacks

LUCKNOW (Reuters) - Indian authorities turned away trains
from a northern town on Monday to prevent people from traveling
there after clashes between Hindus and Muslims killed seven
people and wounded 33.

The violence in Mau, 282 km (175 miles) east of the Uttar
Pradesh state capital, Lucknow, erupted on Friday after
minority Muslims protested against a Hindu procession passing
through their part of the town.

The town was peaceful on Monday but authorities said they
feared attacks on people traveling in trains to the area.
Trains have often been targeted in communal violence in India.

"All trains have been diverted to avoid any kind of attack
by rioters," railway official Amitabh Lal said.

Mau is close to the flashpoint town of Ayodhya, where the
razing of a mosque in late 1992 by Hindu zealots sparked
nationwide religious riots that killed 3,000.

Hundreds of extra police have been deployed in Mau, a town
of 1.4 million people of which about 16 percent are Muslims.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed as some people are
apparently trying to fuel violence," government official Alok
Sinha said.