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Tuesday, 30 April, 2002, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Rights group censures Gujarat
Victims of Gujarat violence
The violence in Gujarat has triggered national outrage
A New York-based human rights group has launched a strong attack on the government of India's western state of Gujarat, alleging that state officials were directly involved in the killings of hundreds of Muslims.

What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising, it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims

Smita Narula Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch, which carried out its own investigations, says the violence was pre-planned and the state government was now involved in a massive cover-up of its role in the rioting.

Nearly 900 people, mostly Muslims, died in the riots which erupted in late February when a Muslim mob attacked a train carrying Hindu activists, killing 58 people.

The Gujarat Government has been under attack by the opposition as well as several welfare groups for failing to prevent the spread of violence in the state.

But the Human Rights Watch report is the most damning so far.

The Gujarat Government has denied any role in the violence.

Muslims targeted

Human Rights Watch visited Ahmedabad city three weeks after the initial attacks.

Victims of Gujarat violence
Thousands have been displaced

It says at the height of the riots between 28 February and 2 March, thousands of attackers descended on Muslim neighbourhoods, clad in saffron scarves and khaki shorts - the uniform of Hindu right-wing groups.

The report said they were guided by voter lists and print-outs giving addresses of Muslim-owned properties, information they obtained from the local municipality.

The police were directly implicated in nearly all the attacks against Muslims that were documented in the 75-page report.

In some cases, they were merely passive observers - but in many instances they led the mobs, aiming and firing at Muslims who got in the way, the report said.


The report says the Gujarat administration is now engaged in a massive cover-up of the state's role in the massacres.

It says many police complaints filed by eye-witnesses specifically named local leaders of right-wing Hindu groups as instigators or participants in the violence.

But the police are under pressure not to arrest them or to reduce the severity of the charges filed, it says.

"This is a crisis of impunity", said Smita Narula, the author of the report.

"If charges against members of these groups are not investigated, violence may continue to engulf the state, and may even spread to other parts of the country", she said.

Author of Human Rights Watch report Smita Narula
"An overwhelming majority of the victims were Muslim"
See also:

25 Apr 02 | South Asia
UK report censures Gujarat rulers
29 Apr 02 | South Asia
Profile: Narendra Modi
12 Apr 02 | South Asia
Analysis: BJP's Gujarat tactics
16 Apr 02 | South Asia
Gujarat Muslim women 'rape victims'
15 Mar 02 | South Asia
India's secularism under threat?
28 Feb 02 | South Asia
Analysis: India's religious clashes
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