A dispute over an unpaid restaurant bill sparked a riot in a western Indian city between Hindus and Muslims that left scores of people injured and four dead.
The violence erupted in the Dhule District of the western city of Maharashtra over the weekend after a group of customers refused to pay a bill, an official told the Press Trust of India (PTI).
According to the official the customers were then beaten by staff, after which they returned to the restaurant with a large group of people, causing the situation to escalate further.
The clashes then spread to other parts of the city. Most of the people injured were police officers and four rioters were killed by police fire.
“The restaurant owner was from one community and the customer from the other,” Special Inspector General Deven Bharti told AFP, referring to the communities of Hindus and Muslims in the city. There have been sectarian conflicts previously in the city.
“The customer went and took 50 people from his community and assaulted the restaurant owner, and people from the owner’s community also gathered and started arsoning [sic] and rioting,” Bharti said.
The violence left shops damaged, motorcycles burned out, and windows broken across the district, reported AFP.
Police used sticks, tear gas, plastic bullets, and other means to quell the rioters before using live rounds, Bharti said. On Monday, the area was under curfew and the situation under control.
Bharti told the PTI that an 18-year-old boy was killed in the incident.
Local activists told the Indian Express that the riots were premeditated and had political implications. Rioters were also armed with acid and Molotov cocktails.
A riot in Dhule between Muslim and Hindu communities in 2008 left 10 dead.
Hindus make up around 80 percent of India’s population, while Muslims comprise around 13 percent.
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