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MENAFN - Arab News - 16/05/2014
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(MENAFN - Arab News) Hyderabad: india authorities banned victory processions and imposed a curfew in a southern city on thursday in stepped up security on the eve of national election results expected to vault hindu nationalist narendra modi to power.

hundreds of police and paramilitary forces patrolled hyderabad city to prevent fresh religious violence one day after three people were killed when officers fired during clashes between muslims and sikhs.

police said a curfew would remain in place in the old quarter of hyderabad an it hub home to giants google and microsoft following the clashes on wednesday that saw mobs destroy homes and other property.

'about 500 police are patrolling the area. the situation is calm and quiet now" local joint police commissioner y. gangadhar told afp.

'our personnel are talking to the residents and trying to reassure them on their safety and security" he said. the move comes as india awaits the results on friday of a mammoth general election in which modi and his opposition bharatiya janata party (bjp) are expected to sweep to power over the left-leaning congress party.

critics fear that a bjp victory with modi as prime minister could stoke tensions across the officially secular but hindu-majority country between religious communities.

election commission officials banned victory processions in india's holiest hindu city of varanasi and throughout the electorally critical northern state of uttar pradesh after results are announced.

india has a long history of religious violence including in muzaffarnagar district of the state last september between muslims and hindus that left some 50 people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes. the state's chief election official umesh sinha said thursday the decision was 'ultimately aimed at maintaining law and order in the state."

sinha said the decision was not targeting individuals amid local media reports that modi was planning a massive street parade for supporters on saturday if he won the seat of varanasi.

modi has been locked in a high-profile battle in the sacred city with anti-corruption hero arvind kejriwal from the new aam aadmi (common man) that has drawn tens of thousands to rallies.

modi's decision to stand in varanasi was rich in religious symbolism and seen as reinforcing his hindu nationalist credentials during the five-week election in which he steered clear of hard-line rhetoric.

modi has struggled to shake off perceptions of prejudice against india's 150 million muslims following religious riots in gujarat in 2002 when he was chief minister.

the violence left some 1000 people mostly muslims dead and allegations that he did too little to control the unrest. a supreme court investigation found no case against him and he denies wrongdoing.

according to local media wednesday's clashes in hyderabad erupted after a group allegedly torched a flag raised at a sikh temple.

mobs armed with swords and sticks then stormed a muslim-majority area of the city prompting retaliatory violence the times of india said.


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