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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 18:05 GMT
Indian press shocked by bloodshed
Indian police shoot at rioters in Ahmedabad
Security forces are struggling to contain the riots
Indian commentators fear that the current violence in Gujarat could spiral into nationwide chaos if plans go ahead to begin work on a Hindu temple in Ayodhya.

The widely-read independent Hindi-language daily Rashtriya Sahara says the latest violence "puts the whole human race to shame".

"Such an horrendous example of communal frenzy is perhaps unprecedented in independent India," says the daily. "Since the fundamentalist demon of both the Hindu and Muslim communities has been roused, it must be satiated."

Conspiracy

"The brutal killings were not the result of any immediate tension, but part of a well-planned conspiracy. It is possible that it was hatched by the fundamentalists," the paper says.

This is the first phase of communal frenzy. Its reaction might be seen in more massacres since the root of the tension continues to be Ayodhya

Rashtriya Sahara

"This is the first phase of communal frenzy. Its reaction might be seen in more massacres, since the root of the tension continues to be Ayodhya ... all political parties must regard it as a national problem and start immediate discussions and find a solution acceptable to all," Rashtriya Sahara urges.

The Asian Age, an English-language independent, voices fears about activists of the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) gathering in Ayodhya.

"It is now imperative that instead of using the temple issue to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity, the government at the Centre lives up to its responsibility and calls off the squads that have started arriving in Ayodhya with the one-point agenda of fomenting tension and trouble," the paper says.

Muslim fears

The largest circulation Urdu daily in the Indian capital, Qaumi Awaz, calls for the VHP leaders to be arrested.

"The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has threatened that the Ram temple will be built even if it leads to riots all over the country. In a provocative statement, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has threatened to start communal riots in order to terrify the Muslims."

If the Vajpayee government believes in the supremacy of law, the VHP leaders should be detained

Qaumi Awaz

Qaumi Awaz says that to destroy secular Indian society, the VHP "is intimidating the people through the prospects of riots all over the country."

"If the Vajpayee government believes in the supremacy of law, the VHP leaders should be detained."

Hindus 'unsafe'

The largest-circulation Hindi-language daily, Dainik Jagran, says the train attack which triggered the riots proved that Hindus were at risk in their own country.

"The manner in which pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were burned and killed is no ordinary crime but is the most obnoxious, horrendous, and unpardonable offence against humanity. The complicity of Pakistan's agents and terrorist organisations cannot be ruled out."

Islam is absolutely safe in India. A Hindu is gradually becoming an orphan and helpless in his own country

Dainik Jagran

Dainik Jagran says the Hindu "is gradually becoming an orphan and helpless in his own country, without the least hope of help from any quarter".

"Today's leaders, who mostly belong to the Hindu society, are the absolute epitome of cowardice. Nothing can be expected from them."

However, Dainik Jagran urges the Hindu community "not to lose its self-control".

"The Hindus should not forget that the Muslims in the country are their brothers and the Godhra incident could be part of a conspiracy hatched by foreign forces".

Insanity

Delhi's Hindustan Times speaks of "the insanity unleashed by the VHP" and accuses the BJP of "perhaps hoping that the VHP's belligerence will consolidate the Hindu vote behind it".

Now the worst that was feared has happened in Gujarat. The communal conflagration can spread like wild fire unless preventive arrests are made immediately

Hindustan Times

"Now the worst that was feared has happened in Gujarat. The communal conflagration can spread like wild fire unless preventive arrests are made immediately and the government makes it absolutely clear that it will crack down on the miscreants wherever they create trouble."

In Madras, the Tamil-language Dinamani says the plans for the construction of the Ayodhya temple on 15 March are based on "the auspicious day fixed by astrologers".

"Central and state governments should take swift action to see that communal riots are not triggered off in other parts of the country. The evil forces that were responsible for this heinous crime should be identified and punished."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

01 Mar 02 | South Asia
Indian troops try to stop bloodshed
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