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Sunday, 24 March, 2002, 17:37 GMT
Rights panel censures Gujarat
A paramilitary soldier looks at rioters in Ahmedabad
Gujarat: Widely criticised for not doing enough
India's human rights commission has criticised the government of the western state of Gujarat for its "inefficiency" in controlling the recent communal violence in the state.


Three weeks or more is a long time for complete normalcy... I did not see that anywhere

JS Verma, Chairman NHRC

The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), JS Verma, said the state was far from normal even three weeks after the first clash between Hindus and Muslims.

Mr Verma was speaking to journalists in Delhi on his return from Gujarat.

Riots were sparked off across Gujarat early this month after a Muslim mob attacked and killed a group of Hindu activists travelling by train in the town of Godhra.

Several days of revenge attacks followed in which at least 700 people, mostly members of the minority Muslim community, were killed.

Inaction

Mr Verma, the former chief justice of India, asked the authorities in Gujarat: "When Godhra happened, did or did you not anticipate an escalation?"

A Muslim woman with her child in Gujarat
Thousands were displaced by the violence

"If you did not, was it not a failure of intelligence literally and figuratively, of your intelligence agencies and your own intelligence?"

The NHRC had earlier this month served a notice on the state government seeking information on the violence.

Mr Verma said his commission was awaiting a response from the state government.

The NHRC is a government appointed body. It does not have powers to prosecute but its reports often force official action.

More violence

The assessment by the rights panel chief came as more violence was reported from the state.

A Hindu mob allegedly killed a Muslim woman in Vejalpur area of Ahmedabad city.

One other was person was stabbed in the same area.

A curfew has been imposed in Vejalpur.

The authorities say four other towns have been placed under curfew following sporadic violence.

Officials say additional police and paramilitary soldiers have been sent to some sensitive areas ahead of Ashura - the Shia Muslim mourning ceremony which will be observed in India on Monday.

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See also:

20 Mar 02 | South Asia
Rights team probes Gujarat violence
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