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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Gujarat riot officer transferred
Gujarat riots
The 2002 riots left about 1,000 people dead
A senior Indian policeman has been dropped from the country's top federal agency which is investigating religious riots in the western state of Gujarat.

PC Pandey has been moved from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to the home ministry.

He was police chief in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad at the time of the 2002 riots in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died.

Gujarat's authorities were accused of doing little to stop the violence.

The 2002 riots were sparked off after 58 people were killed when a train carrying Hindu activists was set ablaze by a suspected Muslim mob near the town of Godhra.

Witness to testify

India's solicitor general, GE Vahanvati, told a court that the decision to shift Mr Pandey was made because of public opinion.

Mr Pandey's new job would "not include any matter relating to post-Godhra riots in Gujarat" he said.

Rights groups and others had petitioned against Mr Pandey's appointment to the CBI saying he had been accused of complicity in the riots.

The Gujarat police and state administration have been sharply criticised for their poor handling of the riots and for doing little to ensure justice for the riot victims.

On Tuesday, a key witness in a controversial riot case, Zahira Sheikh, is to testify in a special court in the city of Mumbai (Bombay).

The Best Bakery case - named after the bakery attacked by a suspected Hindu mob in the city of Baroda in which 14 people were killed - was shifted out of Gujarat under the orders of the Supreme Court, after Ms Sheikh said she lied in the original trial because she had been intimidated by local politicians.




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