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Saturday, 19 October, 2002, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
Hindu leader accused over comments
Ashok Singhal, international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council)
Ashok Singhal: recent comments may have broken law
Amnesty International has called for an urgent investigation into inflammatory statements reportedly made by a right-wing Indian Hindu leader.

The London based human rights groups said it was "alarmed at repeated inflammatory statements" made by Ashok Singhal, the international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an extreme right-wing ally of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.


We were successful in our experiment of raising Hindu consciousness, which will be repeated all over the country now"

Ashok Singhal, quoted by Amnesty
It feared the comments could endanger the safety of the minority Muslim community in India.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed early this year in riots sparked by an attack on a passenger train in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Urgent action requested

Amnesty quoted Ashok Singhal as having said: "What happened in Gujarat will happen in the whole of the country," and that the recent massacres in Gujarat were a; "successful experiment...which will be repeated all over the country."

"Investigations to establish Singhal's responsibilities in relation to the reported statements should be initiated as a matter of urgency and appropriate action, including possible prosecution, should be taken accordingly," Amnesty said in a statement.

It said India's Human Rights Commission had also called for firm action on provocative statements which have the potential to incite communal tensions and violence.

Muslim activists staging sit-in protest near residence of Indian PM Atal Behari Vajpayee
Muslim activists have called for groups like the VHP to be banned
Police charges

Section 153 (a) of the Indian Penal Code prescribes prosecution for "promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion."

Amnesty's call coincides with a case filed by the Indian police against another Hindu nationalist leader, for remarks which the police feared could stoke religious tensions.

Bal Thackeray, leader of the hardline Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena, faces charges for a speech in which he called for Hindus to form suicide squads to take on terrorists.

But Mr Thackeray has denied that his remarks were directed at Indian Muslims and says they were aimed only against terrorists.

See also:

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