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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 August, 2004, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Indian politician sent to prison
BJP leader Uma Bharti addresses press conference
Bharti - a charismatic Hindu nun
A top Indian politician has been remanded in jail over charges that she incited violence between Hindus and Muslims 10 years ago.

Uma Bharti, who belongs to the opposition Hindu nationalist BJP, surrendered to a court in the southern state of Karnataka.

On Monday, she resigned as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh state after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

She was remanded in jail for 14 days. Charges have yet to be brought.

Ms Bharti, 43, had travelled by train to Karnataka to give herself up.

Hundreds of her supporters gathered outside the court in the southern town of Hubli, in Karnataka, when she made her appearance.

Authorities imposed a curfew in parts of the town to prevent any possible violence and schools were shut down.

A judge sentenced her to 14 days in judicial custody after which there will be a further hearing. She was sent to a local jail.

Unfurled flag

Ms Bharti, a firebrand Hindu nun, is one of the most charismatic politicians in the BJP.

She is accused of leading a banned rally in Karnataka in 1994 which led to clashes between Hindus and Muslims after BJP workers unfurled the Indian flag over a prayer ground disputed by both communities.

Several people were killed in the violence that followed.

Political row

The case against Uma Bharti was recently reopened by the Karnataka government, which is led by the Congress party.

Congress became the main party in the federal government after this year's general elections.

The BJP has been at the forefront of noisy protests in the national parliament over several ministers in the federal Congress-led government who face criminal charges.

One minister, Shibu Soren, was forced to step down after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with the 1975 killing of 11 people in Jharkhand state.

Mr Soren, who denies having anything to do with the deaths, is on remand in jail awaiting trial.

Under Indian law, a politician is barred from holding office if convicted of a crime but not if he or she is facing legal proceedings.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder
"The battle lines between the BJP and congress have clearly been drawn"

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