Chennai: Eighty-six people were arrested on Friday after a group of several hundred Muslim protesters threw stones and smashed windows at the US consulate in Chennai, police said.
“They smashed the window panes, surveillance camera and tried to scale over the compound wall, but we dispersed them while exercising restraint,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity. “We made 86 arrests.”
The violence flared during a protest organized by the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, an Islamist movement, against an anti-Islam film which has triggered similar protests in large parts of the Muslim world.
The protesters also burnt an effigy of US President Barack Obama and an American flag, police said.
One group hurled stones, while others lifted iron barricades placed in front of the main gate to smash windows, the police said.
“We have tightened the security and the situation is well under control,” J.K. Tripathy, commissioner of police in the southern city, told local reporters.
One of the organizers said that what had been planned as a peaceful protest was hijacked by militants.
“We wanted to organize a peaceful demonstration to express our dismay over the film, but the youngsters, who could not hold their nerves, ran and attacked the consulate office,” Gunangudi Hanifa said.
A spokesman for the consulate, who did not give his name, said that no staff had been hurt in the attack.
“No one was injured and all the staff members are safe,” he said.
Google announced earlier Friday that its video-sharing website YouTube had blocked access in India to the anti-Islam film that has resulted in deadly protests in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.
The block was in response to a court order in Jammu and Kashmir, a company official said on the condition of anonymity.
“We do, at times, block content in response to a court order or other valid legal process,” a Google spokesman said in a statement emailed to AFP.
In Kashmir, the most senior Islamic cleric reportedly told all US citizens to “immediately leave as the sentiments of the Muslims have been hurt by these pictures”.
Thousands of Muslims shouting anti-US slogans gathered in the streets of Srinagar on Friday after prayers, a traditional time of protest in the restive region home to a violent 20-year separatist movement. AFP