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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Indian MPs back Gujarat motion
Sunday's rioting in Gujarat
Fresh violence has broken out again
The upper house of the Indian parliament has voted unanimously to seek federal intervention in the riot-hit state of Gujarat.

The vote came as eight people died and 45 others were injured in fresh violence overnight in the state capital, Ahmedabad.

Once the parliament passes a resolution by consensus, it is a notice to the Gujarat government to act

Atal Behari Vajpayee,
Indian PM
The rioting - during which groups of youths hurled missiles and set houses and shops alight - was the latest incident in more than two months of violence between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat in which more than 900 people have died.

The opposition has accused the government of failing to protect Muslims during the worst rioting in India in more than 10 years.

"Wherever required, strictness will be shown. At the same time, the focus will be put on relief and rehabilitation measures," Home Minister LK Advani told MPs.

Heated debate

Last week, the Indian Government defeated an opposition motion in the lower house seeking to censure it over the riots.

But it decided to support a similar motion in the upper house because it lacked the numbers to defeat it.

Speaking in the upper house, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee promised to take steps to quell the violence in Gujarat.

"Once the parliament passes a resolution by consensus, it is a notice to the Gujarat government to act," Mr Vajpayee said.

But he rejected opposition calls for the removal of the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who belongs to the prime minister's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"What will a change of leadership do?"

The BJP has been under tremendous pressure to replace Mr Modi, who is accused of complicity in the riots.

Although it won the lower house vote by 94 votes last week, a number of the government's key allies chose to register their protest by abstaining.

Rising toll

Sporadic violence has continued in Gujarat since February when Hindus targeted Muslims in widespread rioting.

It followed an attack by Muslims on Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya, where hardliners want to build a Hindu temple on the ruins of a demolished mosque.

Last week, police said the official death toll had reached 905.

Human rights organisations say at least 2,000 have died, and many more have been forced to remain in refugee camps in Gujarat, unable to go back to their homes.

See also:

25 Apr 02 | South Asia
UK report censures Gujarat rulers
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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