2006-05-04 15:03:14

India: Gujarat violence claims seven lives, brings back spectre of 2002 massacres

(May 04, 2006) : Clashes for the past three days between Muslims, Hindus and Police in Vadodara, the city in western Indian state of Gujarat have left seven people killed and hundreds wounded. The unrest started on 1 May, when local authorities demolished a dargah, the tomb of a holy Sufi, because it was built on state property. Muslim residents claimed the administration knew the community intended to transfer the 200 years old construction somewhere else but it paid no heed. Bishop Godfrey de Rozario of Vadodara, condemned the approach of the civil authorities "who should show more sensitivity to the religious feelings of people instead of provoking anger." He said: " If they thought the demolition was legal, they should have paved the way for it: the inter-faith violence in 2002 is still alive in our minds and the wounds have not yet healed." Fr Cedric Prakash, director of Prashant, a Jesuit human rights centre, said: "We are shocked by what is happening in Vadodara; we condemn the violence perpetrated by part of the population, but we also condemn the indifference of the police and its complicity in these incidents. All those wanted to take justice into their hands should be arrested, especially members of fundamentalist groups like the VHP." In 2002, the so-called "Gujarat carnage" took place, that is, a series of inter-religious clashes that claimed the lives of 2,000 people, mostly Msulims.

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