Death Toll in India Rises to 215 Amid Charges of Police Inaction

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2002 09:49:52 -0000

AHMEDABAD, India, March 1 — Terrorized Muslim families huddled behind locked
doors Thursday as a Hindu mob swarmed through their walled residential
compound brandishing tridents, iron rods, carving knives and cans of
gasoline that would be used to set their homes on fire.

For hours, as flames licked up the walls of their cement block apartments
and enraged Hindus cried "Victory to Ram!" — the Hindu god — no police came
to the rescue, no firefighters arrived to douse the blazes.

When authorities finally turned up in force, 12 women and girls and 6 men
had been burned alive. "The government left them free to do whatever they
wanted," Fakir Muhammad Sayed, 60, said bitterly. His son was among the
dead.

Since a Muslim mob set fire to a train loaded with Hindu fundamentalists on
Wednesday, killing 58, Hindu-Muslim riots have swept this western city,
severely testing the ability of the authorities to contain them. The death
toll has now risen to 215, with 28 people killed today. 

Reeling from charges that the police here passively watched as Hindu rioters
looted, burned and murdered on Thursday, the police were given written
orders today to shoot on sight those who took the law into their own hands.
In one incident today, the police gunned down five people.

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(Reuters)
The death toll from Hindu-Muslim riots in India rose to 215 today, amid
charges of police inaction. Video
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So far the Hindu-Muslim violence, the worst in India in almost a decade, has
largely remained confined to the western state of Gujarat, but Bombay in the
western state of Maharashtra, which also had a history of Hindu-Muslim
violence, prepared for the worst. It arrested hundreds of people for
violating a ban on public gatherings and deployed thousands of extra
security personnel.

Today Ahmedabad seemed like a ravaged patient whose fever has broken. There
were scattered, ferocious riots, but much of the city was eerily, anxiously
quiet.

Raggedy, barefoot children, scavenging for scrap to sell, carried twisted
pieces of charred metal on their heads. Tin-roofed shacks set on fire
Thursday smoldered. Streets usually bustling with traffic here in one of
India's leading commercial hubs were largely empty. 

Peddlers and laborers, still afraid to go back to work, collected in lanes
to wonder how they would buy food. And bubbling not far from the surface
were intense feelings of hatred and rage stoked by the violence.

 

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