AYODHYA, India – Hindu nationalists stormed an airport in central India on Wednesday in a protest over an attack they blamed on Muslim militants at a shrine in northern India at the center of a decades-old sectarian conflict.
More than 200 slogan-shouting activists of the World Hindu Council (search) broke past security officers in the domestic airport in the central city of Indore in Madhya Pradesh (search) state, said local administrator Vivek Agarwal.
The mob smashed the VIP lounge and some of them sprawled onto the tarmac, preventing a New Delhi-bound flight from taking off for an hour.
Police beat protesters back with bamboo truncheons and arrested 40. Airport operations later were resumed, said Agarwal.
In New Delhi, police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of Hindu nationalists who shouted anti-government slogans near the Parliament building. No one was hurt.
The attack Tuesday at the Hindu shrine complex in Ayodhya (search) — a site considered holy by both Hindus and Muslims — left the six assailants dead and wounded three security guards.
One of the attackers blew himself up in a jeep, tearing a hole in iron railings encircling the complex and allowing the five other attackers to enter the complex where they died in a gunfight with the guards, officials said.
Hindu nationalists blamed the attack on Pakistan-backed Muslim militants and called for protests. Officials tightened security nationwide to deter clashes between Hindus and Muslims, which comprise some 12 percent of the 1 billion-plus population.