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Indian police arrest 14 in New Delhi after communal violence

Indian police have arrested 14 people in connection with the violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims during a Hindu religious procession in the country’s capital New Delhi on Saturday.

Six police officers and several others were injured during scuffles that marred the procession at a festival in Jahangirpuri, a suburb of New Delhi.

In recent weeks, religious clashes have broken out between the majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities during religious processions in several parts of the country.

The rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has emboldened hardline religious groups in recent years to take up causes that they say defend the Hindu faith, although his party has denied any rise in communal tensions during Modi’s reign.

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Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in an interview published on Sunday that intolerance among religious communities was not worsening, as he played down recent incidents.

“Fringe elements, who are unable to digest the peace and prosperity in the country, try to defame India’s inclusive culture and commitment,” he told The Economic Times newspaper.

He added that it was not the government’s job to dictate dietary practices to the people, after university students in New Delhi recently clashed on campus over the serving of non-vegetarian food in the canteen during a week that Hindus consider auspicious.

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