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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Delhi voices for and against war
Anti-Pakistan demonstration
Anti-Pakistan sentiment is strong in some quarters

Opinion on the streets of the Indian capital, Delhi, seems totally divided over whether the country should go to war with Pakistan.

"The time has come to settle the score once and for all," said a government employee, Amarjeet Singh.

Indian troops in Kashmir
More Indian troops were moved to the border area on Tuesday
He believes the threat of a nuclear war should be no deterrent.

"A war will at least bring a result. Why suffer killings every day? The time has come to retaliate in the same language that they understand."

Similar sentiments were echoed by a young couple in Delhi's busy Connaught Place market.

"India must take a severe action against Pakistan. You see everybody has a right to protect themselves. If Pakistan is interfering into our territory we should go to war.

"That's what America did. It will help curb terrorism. America started the trend. We should just follow that."

'Cut off the water'

But not all opinions are in favour of war.

There are some like Vijay Keshav who think India should restrict itself to more aggressive diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.

Anti-Pakistan demonstration
Many Indians are angry about the border situation
"I think the Indus water treaty should be abrogated. Cut off the water supply to Pakistan, that will put pressure on them. Just because such measures have not yielded results, doesn't mean we shouldn't use them any more.

Mr Keshav thinks that Delhi could do more to court international favour.

"India should take the world into confidence just the way America did after 11 September. I don't think war is the best option."

Sunita, a student at Delhi University, supported this view.

"No, there should be no war. The leaders of the two countries should resolve it mutually and cordially rather than a full-fledged war or even a limited border conflict," she said.

Memories of war

Sixty-eight-year-old Madan Chaurasia, who runs a tea stall in east Delhi, recalled the horrors of an earlier war and said there should never be any conflict unless unavoidable.

"The first thought that comes to people like me is the concern for our livelihood. Even if our shop has to be shut for three or four days it means such a huge financial loss," she said.

"I used to be petrified during the blackouts in the 1971 war with Pakistan. It all seemed so eerie and strange.

"We should have a war only when it is thrust on us. We shouldn't start it."

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19 May 02 | South Asia
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