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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Gujarat vote in Indian parliament
Police fire tear gas in Gujarat
The bloodshed shows little sign of ending
The Indian parliament is to debate the violence that has rocked the state of Gujarat and follow it with a vote that could criticise the government's handling of the crisis.

The situation in Gujarat touches the lives of every Indian

Deputy Speaker PM Sayeed

The deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament ruled that the situation in Gujarat was a matter of "public interest" which merited a serious discussion.

The ruling comes as a victory for the opposition which has pushed for a debate and a vote on Gujarat, something which the government opposes.

Parliament has been deadlocked for over a week over Gujarat where religious riots have claimed more than 800 lives.


Deputy Speaker PM Sayeed was forced to come to a decision after both sides failed to reach an agreement.

The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which also rules Gujarat, argued that the violence in the state was a local matter.

But the deputy speaker rejected the BJP's stand and said the extraordinary situation in the state could not be seen as a mere law and order problem.

"Since the situation in Gujarat touches the lives of every Indian, the debate in parliament over Gujarat will take place under parliamentary rule 184 which includes a formal vote," Mr Sayeed said.

Violence against Muslims

The Gujarat violence, in which most of the victims have been Muslim, has placed the government of Atal Behari Vajpayee under tremendous pressure with even some of its coalition partners criticising it.

Indian troops patrol Gujarat streets
The army was called in to check the violence
The opposition motion seeks to censure the government over the violence in Gujarat and for failing to protect the country's Muslim minority.

Some of the government's allies have hinted that they may vote in favour of the motion.

The government will not fall if it loses the motion but it would embarrass Mr Vajpayee and expose fissures within his alliance.

No date has been set as yet for the debate.


The riots broke out after a Muslim mob attacked a train carrying Hindu activists, killing 60 of them.

In retaliatory violence, hundreds of Muslims were killed and their homes and businesses burned down, forcing thousands to seek shelter in relief camps.

Fresh violence broke out on Tuesday in which three people were killed and more than 20 injured in various parts of Gujarat.

This followed the death of more than 20 people in new communal clashes over the past weekend.

The Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandes, visited the state and decided to keep army troops in place to check the violence.

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Delhi
"The BJP feels the vote could be a verdict on their administration"
T R Ramchandran, political editor of The Tribune
"By and large, all over the country, there is a sense of outrage"
See also:

18 Apr 02 | South Asia
Parliament impasse costs India
16 Apr 02 | South Asia
India's opposition turns up the heat
12 Apr 02 | South Asia
Analysis: BJP's Gujarat tactics
16 Apr 02 | South Asia
Gujarat Muslim women 'rape victims'
12 Apr 02 | South Asia
BJP stands by Gujarat chief
24 Mar 02 | South Asia
Rights panel censures Gujarat
15 Mar 02 | South Asia
India's secularism under threat?
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