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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
UK report censures Gujarat rulers
A scene of rioting in Ahmedabad
The report is a damning indictment of the government
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By Jill McGivering
BBC correspondent in Delhi

British officials in India say the recent widespread violence in the Indian state of Gujarat was pre-planned and carried out with the support of the state government.

In a damning internal report obtained by the BBC, British officials say the violence had all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing and that reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible while the chief minister remains in power.

News of the British document comes as Indian politics is in disarray with opposition parties calling for an independent inquiry into the violence.

The ruling party, the BJP, has consistently praised Gujarat's chief minister for his handling of the crisis.

Damning indictment

This leaked report is the result of an investigation into the Gujarat violence by British officials in India.

Muslims pray for safety in Ahmedabad
"The aim of the violence was to purge Muslims"

It is a damning indictment of the state government.

It says the violence, far from being spontaneous, was planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by an extremist Hindu organisation with the support of the state government.

The aim, it says, was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas, and it says at least 2,000 people died.

Reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims will be impossible, it concludes, while Gujarat's chief minister remains in power.

Political chaos

Britain's verdict comes as Indian politics is in turmoil in the aftermath of the Gujarat crisis.

Leaders of the right-wing BJP, which leads the coalition government, have staunchly defended the chief minister, a member of the same party.

But many in the opposition are demanding his resignation and an independent inquiry.

Britain's views may be received coldly.

As the world's largest democracy, India bitterly resents what it calls the interference of foreign powers in its affairs - all the more so when the criticisms come from a former colonial power.

The BBC's Jill McGivering in Delhi
"Foreign criticism is building"
See also:

25 Apr 02 | South Asia
Report damns Gujarat Government
23 Apr 02 | South Asia
Gujarat vote in Indian parliament
18 Apr 02 | South Asia
Parliament impasse costs India
12 Apr 02 | South Asia
Analysis: BJP's Gujarat tactics
16 Apr 02 | South Asia
Gujarat Muslim women 'rape victims'
24 Mar 02 | South Asia
Rights panel censures Gujarat
15 Mar 02 | South Asia
India's secularism under threat?
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