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Thursday, 9 May, 2002, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Riot troops for Gujarat
Policeman watches burning car in Ahmedabad
Victims have been stoned, stabbed and burned alive
The Indian Government says it is sending 2,000 anti-riot troops to the troubled western state of Gujarat.


Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has regretfully decided that no police force could be spared

Punjab Government
State officials had asked for an extra 1,000 police from the state of Punjab to help control religious violence which has raged for more than two months, but their request was refused.

The authorities in Punjab said they could not spare the men.

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

In the latest violence, a man was reportedly dragged off his scooter and burned to death in the town of Vatva.

Gujarat police
The troops will help Gujarat's police force
The anti-riot contingent offered by the federal authorities will be redeployed from areas across India, a Home Ministry official told the French news agency AFP.

The official added that 200 "Black Cat" commandos would also be sent, to assist Gujarat's recently-appointed security adviser, KPS Gill.

'Super cop'

It was Mr Gill who had requested the Punjab commandos.

Dubbed "super cop", he gained fame during the late 1980s when as Punjab police chief he helped put down a Sikh separatist movement in the state.

Commandos
Large, additional forces are needed in Gujarat
He was appointed by the federal government to advise Gujarat's Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi, who belongs to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has been accused of turning a blind eye to the slaughter.

On Monday, the government supported a motion in the upper house of parliament calling for federal intervention in the state, but still refuses to sack Mr Modi.

'Complicity'

The recent violence began when Hindu mobs went on the rampage to avenge an attack on a train carrying Hindu activists back from the disputed holy site at Ayodhya.

Right-wing Hindu organisations say the violence represented a spontaneous retaliation for the train attack, which left 58 Hindus dead.

But human rights groups and foreign observers have alleged the wholesale complicity of state authorities in what they say was a systematic campaign targeting the Muslim minority.

Rights groups also 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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jill McGivering in Gujarat
"Muslims accuse the police, mainly Hindu, of failing to protect them"
Historian Professor Romila Thaper
"There is an attempt to suggest the only history and civilisation that matter are Hindu"
See also:

08 May 02 | South Asia
Gujarat violence flares
07 May 02 | South Asia
Special riot force for Gujarat
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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