At least four people were killed and 176 people injured in clashes that broke out in North Maharashtra on Monday.

The clashes erupted after members of two communities began fighting over a petty matter at a food stall in Dhule town. The violence quickly spread towards nearby areas like Machibazar and Madhavpura.

"The clash between two communities broke out at around 3 pm yesterday. Police first resorted to lathicharge, and later firing. Some people were killed and others received minor injuries. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) and State Reserve Police personnel are there and the situation is peaceful right now," said Deven Bharti, ADG, Law and Order, Maharashtra, NDTV reported. 

Police had rushed to the scene and used water cannons to control the crowds. Authorities later resorted to firing, leaving few people dead. Of those injured 113 were policemen.

According to Daily Bhaskar, the deceased were identified as Imran Ali (20), Asim Shaikh (25) and Saood Ahmed (23). The exact cause of death will be confirmed after police receive the post-mortem reports.

Reports said the unrest began after hotel staff had beaten some people for not paying the bill. The group returned with more people from its community to attack the staff.  

Following the clashes, authorities called for curfew in the affected areas.

Seeing the situation as still tense, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan appealed people to remain calm. "The Rapid Action Force has been deployed and the situation is under control at the moment. I appeal to every one to maintain peace and calm," IBN Live reported.