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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Bombay riot incitement case adjourned
Commuter in a Bombay bus
The situation is Bombay is tense
India's Supreme Court has adjourned the hearing of a case against Bal Thackeray, the right-wing Hindu leader from Bombay who is accused of inciting communal violence in the city eight years ago.

The court gave the federal government six weeks to provide more information about its position on the issue.

Mr Thackeray, who leads the Shiv Sena Party, was accused by a judicial commission two years ago of writing inflammatory articles during the Hindu-Muslim riots in which hundreds of people were killed.

Bal Thackeray and son, Udhav
Bal Thackeray (right) at his home on Friday
Tension has been high in Bombay since Saturday when the state government said it was planning to arrest and prosecute him for his role in the unrest, which occurred after Hindu extremists destroyed a mosque in Ayodhya.

Correspondents say the stance of the federal government has been muddled by contradictory remarks from different ministers on whether New Delhi has the right to interfere in the Maharashtra government's decision.

The court is hearing a public interest litigation requesting action on the findings of the judicial commission.

Federal stance

Mr Thackeray's party is a member of the federal government, and a close ally of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Srikrishna Commission report was made public at a time when Maharashtra was ruled by a Shiv Sena-BJP coalition. The Shiv Sena rejected the report.

Now, with a Congress-led coalition in power in the state, the go-ahead has been given to prosecute Mr Thackeray.

The BBC's Bombay correspondent says that if the BJP supports the Maharashtra government action it runs the risk of antagonising one of its oldest allies.

But he says if the party opposes the prosecution of Mr Thackeray it may expose itself to the charge of being sectarian.

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See also:

20 Jul 00 | South Asia
Authorities firm on arrest threat
20 Jul 00 | South Asia
Police deny Shiv Sena arrest rumours
15 Jul 00 | South Asia
Hindu militant faces court
28 Jul 99 | South Asia
Poll ban for Hindu leader
06 Dec 99 | South Asia
Protest over Ayodhya anniversary
19 Jul 00 | South Asia
Profile: The 'tiger' of Bombay
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