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Extremist Hindus set mosque on fire, shoot dead Imam in India’s Haryana

A Hindu mob has set a mosque on fire and shot dead an Imam in India’s Haryana state, neighboring the capital New Delhi.

The mosque, located in Haryana’s Gurugram district, was set ablaze on Monday night by extremist Hindu elements, who opened fire there and killed an Imam identified as Maulana Saad.

Two people were also injured in the attack.

Gurgaon Police said in a statement that “the attackers (who torched the mosque) have been identified and several of them have been rounded up.”

The attack followed violence that broke out earlier in the day in the neighboring Nuh district when a procession organized by the right-wing extremist Hindu group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) passed through the Muslim-dominated district.

The violence left at least four people killed, including two members of the home guard – a voluntary force that helps police control civil disturbances – and at least 20 injured.

“The procession was meant to move from one temple to another but clashes broke out between two groups on the way, which resulted in the death of four people,” Krishan Kumar, spokesperson of Nuh police, told Reuters.

In the wake of the violence, prohibitory orders were imposed in Gurugram, and schools and colleges in the district were directed to remain closed on Tuesday. Curfew orders were also imposed in Nuh where the internet has been also shut off.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pursuit of a “Hindu first” agenda since coming to power in 2014 has stoked communal tensions in India.

The latest incidents follow increasing violence targeting India’s Muslim minority carried out by Hindu nationalists who have been emboldened by Modi’s silence on such attacks since he came to power.

Over the years, Indian Muslims have often been targeted for everything from their food and clothing style to inter-religious marriages.

Critics say these tensions have further been exacerbated by right-leaning Indian television anchors during raucous TV debates.

International rights groups have warned that such attacks could escalate.

They have accused Modi’s governing party of looking the other way and sometimes enabling hate speech against Muslims, who comprise 14% of India’s 1.4 billion people but are still numerous enough to be the second-largest Muslim population of any nation.

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