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Hundreds of Hindu nationalists detained for defying ban on pilgrimage to holy site in India

NEW DELHI — Hundreds of Hindu nationalists have been detained in northern India for allegedly defying a ban on pilgrimages to a disputed holy site that’s been the cause of deadly clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

The city of Ayodhya has been under heavy security since last week, when the Uttar Pradesh state government forbade the pilgrimages for fear of communal violence. Most shops are closed and people are indoors.

Police said more than 500 members of the nationalist organization Vishva Hindu Parishad were detained today. The members insist their pilgrimage is a religious event, not a political one.

Hindus believe the site is the birthplace of their god Rama. Muslims revere it for the 16th century Babri Mosque torn down by Hindu extremists in 1992, sparking nationwide riots that killed 2,000 people.

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