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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Gujarat transfers top policeman
Policemen on patrol in Ahmedabad
Gujarat policemen have been accused of complicity
State authorities in India's riot-torn Gujarat state have transferred the top police officer in the state's largest city, Ahmedabad.
Calcutta peace rally for Gujarat riot victims
Anger over the riots is widespread

The transfer of Police Commissioner PC Pandhe was ordered late Thursday night by the state's Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Pandhe has been widely criticised for failing to stop continuing clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs that have claimed at least 900 lives and destroyed much of the city.

In addition to Mr Pandhe, 13 other officers were issued marching orders, to be replaced by others whose ability and integrity are considered unblemished.

Mr Modi ordered Mr Pandhe's transfer after a Hindu mob reportedly attacked the children of two city firemen.

Firemen's strike

Mr Pandhe was replaced by Additional Director-General of Police KR Kaushik.

The transfer follows a fresh surge in communal violence in which around 30 people have been killed over the past five days.

Indian soldier in Ahmedabad
Soldiers have partially replaced policemen

Early on Friday, several hundred Hindus and Muslims clashed on the banks of the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad.

They carried swords and pelted each other with stones.

Police said at least 40 people were injured in the clashes and apparently, some houses were set on fire although Ahmedabad's firefighters refused to respond to emergency calls.

Firefighters went on strike on Thursday night after two of their colleagues were allegedly beaten up by a mob, and an ambulance sent to rescue them was stoned.

This was apparently after the children of two firemen had been beaten up by another mob.

Special forces

The strike was withdrawn after the authorities promised action against the attackers.

Mr Pandhe's swift transfer is believed to be a key element of that promise.

After repeated complaints of complicity and negligence against Gujarat's state authorities, India's central government recently joined the opposition in criticising Mr Modi's administration.

Mr Modi then appointed senior security expert KPS Gill as his chief security adviser with the task of ending the continuing violence.

The Indian Government says it is sending 2,000 anti-riot troops to reinforce security forces in Gujarat.

See also:

09 May 02 | South Asia
Riot troops for Gujarat
09 May 02 | South Asia
Gujarat's Muslims live in terror
08 May 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Gujarat's siege mentality
08 May 02 | South Asia
Gujarat violence flares
07 May 02 | South Asia
Special riot force for Gujarat
15 Mar 02 | South Asia
India's secularism under threat?
28 Feb 02 | South Asia
Analysis: India's religious clashes
05 Mar 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Why is Gujarat so violent?
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