60 injured as mob clashes with police in 'Indian Idol' riots

CALCUTTA, India - More than 60 people were injured and dozens of vehicles set ablaze in eastern India when an angry mob demonstrated after a radio host made derogatory comments about the winner of the popular television show "Indian Idol," officials said Saturday.

The violence broke out Friday when supporters of Prashant Tamang, the recent winner of the TV singing competition, took to the streets of Siliguri, a town in the eastern state of West Bengal, to protest what they perceived as a radio show host's ethnic slur against Tamang, said state police official R.J.S. Nalwa. Tamang is an Indian citizen of Nepalese origin.

The protesters apparently blocked a road and refused to let an ambulance carrying a patient pass, which led to clashes between Tamang's supporters and a group accompanying the ambulance, said Nalwa.

Intervening police had to fire their weapons and use batons and tear gas in self-defence, said Nalwa. Twelve police officers were injured, he said.

Authorities imposed a curfew in the area Friday, which is located in the Darjeeling district 570 kilometres north of Calcutta. In some areas, the curfew was still in effect Saturday, though police said the situation was under control.

In a message to his fans, Tamang called for peace, saying, "violence has no place in song or music."


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