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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Fresh violence in Gujarat
Sonia Gandhi
The opposition is pressing for action
Overnight violence in the riot-hit Indian state of Gujarat claimed three lives as the issue continued to rock the national parliament.

Police in the state's commercial capital, Ahmedabad, said three people were stabbed to death and 15 others were injured as thousands of Hindus and Muslims clashed in the city.

Police fear more violence may break out

Nearly 800 people, mostly Muslims, have died in more than a month of religious violence, although some human rights groups say the toll is much higher.

Opposition parties are pressing for the dismissal of the state's chief minister for failing to prevent the violence.

Weapons seized

"Many areas of Ahmedabad are still tense and army is patrolling sensitive areas," a police official told Reuters.

In the neighbouring state of Rajasthan, police said they had seized a thousand swords and knives in the past few days allegedly bound for Gujarat.

"We have detained four people in this connection. They told us that the swords and the knives were being taken to Gujarat," senior police official Shiv Chand Sharma said.

Press reports quoted the police as saying that the suspects told them the weapons were meant to "protect" riot victims.

Parliament row

The crisis in Gujarat has stalled proceedings in the Indian parliament for a third straight day, as opposition MPs demanded a debate and vote be held on the situation.

We will not compromise on the issue unless the centre removes Modi

Former prime minister, Deve Gowda
The opposition wants the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to replace its chief minister in Gujarat, Narendra Modi.

"We will not compromise on the issue unless the centre removes Modi," a former prime minister, HD Deve Gowda, said during an opposition rally on Wednesday.

Last week, the BJP said it would not replace Mr Modi but asked him to hold fresh elections to the state, a move that infuriated the opposition.

On Wednesday, the Gujarat cabinet said they had deferred the decision to dissolve the state assembly and call a snap poll.

Last month's violence in Gujarat started after Muslims attacked a train carrying hardline Hindus from the disputed holy site of Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Nearly 60 Hindu activists died in that attack.

Shortly afterwards, a wave of Hindu-led rioting, burning and killing engulfed Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat.

See also:

16 Apr 02 | South Asia
Gujarat Muslim women 'rape victims'
12 Apr 02 | South Asia
BJP stands by Gujarat chief
04 Apr 02 | South Asia
Vajpayee says riots 'shameful'
24 Mar 02 | South Asia
Rights panel censures Gujarat
04 Mar 02 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Muslims under siege
15 Mar 02 | South Asia
India's secularism under threat?
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