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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Special riot force for Gujarat
Sunday's rioting in Gujarat
Fresh violence has claimed another nine lives
A force of 1,000 specially-trained riot police is to be deployed in the troubled western Indian state of Gujarat.


These man have been specifically trained to tackle the kind of situation that persists in Gujarat

Security adviser KPS Gill

A spokesman for the Gujarat Government told the BBC that 1,000 commandos from the northern state of Punjab are to be sent to Gujarat to assist the state's police force.

The announcement was made as fresh violence in Gujarat on Tuesday left another nine people dead and more than 10 injured.

More than 900 people, mainly Muslims, have been killed in communal riots in Gujarat since late February.

The Gujarat spokesman, IK Jadeja, said that the decision to requisition the special force was made by the state's recently-appointed security adviser, KPS Gill.

Change in tactics

Mr Gill told the BBC huge numbers of additional security forces were required to tackle the problem in Gujarat.

Commandos
Huge numbers of additional forces are needed

"These men [from Punjab] have been specifically trained to tackle the kind of situation that persists in Gujarat," he said.

He also indicated there would have to be a drastic change in security force tactics in order to control the violence.

Human rights groups and independent observers have accused the Gujarat police of turning a blind eye to the violence and, in some cases, of abetting the rioters.

Mr Gill gained fame during the late 1980s when as Punjab police chief he helped put down a Sikh separatist movement in the state.

He was appointed by the federal government which has come under tremendous pressure over the situation in Gujarat.

Burning and stabbing

In fresh violence on Tuesday, police said a man riding a scooter was burnt to death by a mob in the state's commercial capital, Ahmedabad.

Gujarat police
The commandos will assist Gujarat's police force

In another attack a man was stabbed to death in the city.

In all nine people were killed in different incidents.

But the Indian Government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has rejected demands to replace the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi belongs to the prime minister's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and has been accused of complicity in the riots.

Mr Vajpayee told parliament on Monday that he had decided to replace Mr Modi but changed his mind.

"I felt that a change in leadership would worsen the situation," he said.

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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