Anti-Muslim riots pre-planned by BJP: HR Watch

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Muslim News" <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 2 May 2002 09:34:27 +0100

Members of India's ruling BJP party were directly involved in the killings of 
hundreds of Muslims in the western state of Gujarat, which were pre-planned and 
could spread throughout the country, Human Rights Watch charged Tuesday. 

The New York-based rights group said the state government of Gujarat, led by 
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist BJP party, was engaged 
in a "massive cover-up" to hide its role in two months of communal violence 
that has left at least 900 people dead. 

"What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising; it was a carefully 
orchestrated attack against Muslims," Smita Narula, Human Rights Watch's senior 
South Asia researcher, said in the 75-page report. 

"The attacks were planned in advance and organised with extensive participation 
of the police and state government officials," she said. Police officials who 
sought to protect Muslims were removed from their positions, while some police 
even led distraught victims directly into the hands of their killers, the 
rights group said. 

At the height of the riots between February 28 and March 2, thousands of 
saffron-clad Hindu hardliners descended on Muslim neighborhoods "guided by 
voter lists and printouts of addresses of Muslim-owned properties -- 
information obtained from the local municipality." 

"This is a crisis of impunity," Narula said. "If charges against members of 
these groups are not investigated and prosecuted accordingly, violence may 
continue to engulf the state and may even spread to other parts of the 
country." The rights body said mass graves have been found around Gujarat and 
that the death toll from the riots could be as high as 2,000. Human Rights 
Watch quoted a woman at a mass grave in Gujarat's commercial capital Ahmedabad 
who washed female victims' charred and mutilated bodies before burial. "Some 
bodies had heads missing, some had hands missing, some were like coal -- you 
would touch them and they would crumble. I washed 17 bodies on March 2; only 
one was completely intact. All had been burned, many had been split down the 
middle," the woman said. 

Mansoori Abdulbhai, a 53-year-old resident of Ahmedabad's Gulmarg Society 
neighborhood, said 19 members of his family were killed. "First they cut people 
so they couldn't run and then they set them on fire. One or two women were 
taken inside and gang raped. After five hours the police came and brought us 
here (to a mass grave site). It was so well-planned," he said. 

Citing witnesses and police reports, Human Rights Watch said the BJP was 
directly involved in the anti-Muslim violence along with several affiliated 
Hindu revivalist groups, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu 
Council), Bajrang Dal and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. 

The riots broke out February 27 after a Muslim mob torched a train carrying 
Hindu hardliners, killing 58 people. Most of the victims since have been 
Muslims, up to 100,000 of whom languish in displacement camps. Opposition 
parties have been demanding that Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi be 
sacked, but the BJP has refused to accept his resignation, calling on him 
instead to seek a new mandate in early elections. 
Source: AFP 

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