Sunday, 3 February 2013

1st March 2002



Army moves in after night of Gujarat carnage

Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1008 hrs IST

Troops arrived in riot-torn Gujarat on Friday to crush the violence that has killed 100 people in two days, the worst communal bloodshed in a decade. "The situation should get under control now," Gujarat Home Secretary Ashok Narayan told Reuters. Ahmedabad police chief P.C. Pande said soldiers would fan out to the affected areas shortly.

The state's main city, Ahmedabad, and the eye of the violence, the town of Godhra, were largely deserted on Friday. Debris littered Ahmedabad's streets and fires still smouldered. Police said there were reports of sporadic violence overnight. Police have been issued shoot-on-sight orders in some areas, curfews have been imposed and dozens of people rounded up.

The rioting erupted after a mob torched a train carrying Ram sevaks in Godhra on Wednesday, burning alive 58 people, mostly women and children. At least 60 people are feared dead in reprisal attacks on Thursday by mobs.

In the worst single incident, hundreds of rioters torched a housing complex in Ahmedabad, burning alive at least 18 people, including many children and a former Congress member of Parliament, police said. A senior police official, who could not be named, said as many as 20 others may also have died in the blaze. Three rioters were killed when police opened fire on the mob, he said.

Through the day, mobs defying a curfew stabbed or burned to death many people and looted stores, set fires and blocked roads with flaming tyres in Ahmedabad. Responding to media criticism that police failed to intervene swiftly, Police Commissioner Pande said they "were not insulated from the general social milieu".

"(When) there's a change in the perception of the society, the police is part of it and there's bound to be some kind of contagion effect," he said.

So far, the violence has been confined to Gujarat. But on Friday, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has called for a nationwide strike to protest the train burning. Gujarat authorities asked New Delhi to send in the army amid worries about a rise in the tit-for-tat killings between the tow communities in the state where 20,000 people died in a devastating earthquake in early 2001.

Sporadic violence in Mumbai on bandh day

Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1043 hrs IST

Protesters stoned buses and blocked rail tracks in Mumbai on Friday as a general strike called by the VHP paralysed much of the city. The Shiv Sena is also supporting the strike.

A spokeswoman for the city's public bus service said a stone-throwing mob damaged seven buses and hurt eight staff in the north-western suburb of Borivili as protests spread. Some suburban trains were cancelled when groups of protesters blocked rail tracks, a railway spokesman said.

The VHP called the strike to protest against the killing of 58 Ram sewaks, including women and children, in Wednesday's train attack, which also triggered religious riots in Gujarat.

The Army has been called out on Friday in Gujarat to quell the spiralling violence that has killed 133 people in two days.

Dealers said activity in financial markets was expected to be light.

Security across Mumbai has been stepped up. The city's normally crammed roads were virtually deserted as many people stayed indoors fearing violence. Many shops and restaurants were closed.

Gujarat carnage: Death toll nears 200

Reuters & PTI
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1131 hrs IST

The death toll in two days of rioting in Gujarat has risen to more than 190, including 58 burned alive in the attack that sparked the bloodshed, authorities said on Friday.

The unrest is the worst in India in a decade.

"The death toll is 133 all over the state," Home Department Secretary K. Nityanandam told Reuters, referring to rioting on Thursday a day after 58 people were burned alive when a mob attacked a trainload of Ram sevaks.

The Army has arrived in Gujarat to quell the bloodshed.

Fresh violence claims 30 more lives in Ahmedabad

Fresh communal violence in the city and its outskirts early on Friday claimed 30 more lives, including 27 burnt alive while asleep.

Thirteen columns of army have arrived in the city as Defence Minister George Fernandes took stock of the situation with Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the small hours on Friday morning.

Eight more areas and towns were brought under indefinite curfew bringing the total number to 34 but there was concerned in sensitive areas over the delay in deployment off the army following police inaction.

There were fears of more violence in view of the fact that Muslims would congregate for prayers in mosques. The authorities maintained that the army would stage a flag march shortly and deployed in Ahmedabad.

There were reports of arson and looting in old Ahmedabad city and a police man was killed and his motorcycle burnt in Bapunagar area.

LS adjourned over Gujarat riots

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1151 hrs IST

The Gujarat violence rocked Lok Sabha on Friday with Opposition Members storming the Well protesting government's "failure" to contain the communal flare up, forcing Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi to adjourn the House for the day.

As the House reassembled at noon after the hour-long adjournment, Members from Samajwadi Party, RJD and Muslim League rushed to the Well demanding resignation of the government accusing it of "inaction".

Remove the government, save the country. Lock up Advani under POTO," shouted Opposition Members.

Home Minister L.K. Advani was scheduled to make a statement on the situation in trouble-torn Gujarat but could not do so owing to adjournment of the House.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who was present in the House, was later seen confabulating with TDP leader K. Yerran Naidu, Shiv Sena Minister Manohar Joshi and other Cabinet colleagues.

Bangladesh concerned over Gujarat riots

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1203 hrs IST

Bangladesh has expressed deep concern over communal violence in India and has offered sympathies to the families of victims.

In a message to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Bangladesh Premier Begum Kahaleda Zia said: "We understand your pain and concern following the reported incidents of violence and fervently hope that the people and government in India will be able to address the challenges posed by this human tragedy."

Arriving in Australia to attend the 13th Commonwealth heads of governments meet, she said the government of Bangladesh and she herself have been deeply anguished over the reported act of violence in India.

She said Bangladesh remains deeply committed to relentlessly working to strengthen all forces and support all actions for maintaining harmony in this part of the world, BSS news agency reported.

VHP cadre hold up trains in UP

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1211 hrs IST

Rail traffic was disrupted for several hours on the Allahabad-Mugalsarai section of Northern Railway after VHP activists squatted on the rail tracks as part of the Bharat bandh on Friday.

The activists came to the Naini station early on Friday morning and parked trucks and other vehicles on the tracks throwing rail movement out of gear for more than four hours, NR officials said.

After persuasion by railway authorities and the local police, the activists dispersed and normal running of the trains was restored, the sources said.

Security has been tightened to ensure safety and security of railway property and passengers, they said adding authorities have directed the local police not to allow gathering of mob

Toll crosses 250 as mobs defy curfew orders

Express News Service
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1224 hrs IST

The communal flare up in Gujarat claimed over 250 lives, including 58 killed in the Sabarmati Express fire at Godhra, in three days as Army was finally moved in to take charge in riot-torn Ahmedabad and three other cities on Friday.

Curfew has been extended to 21 police station areas of 30 in Ahmedabad, including Vejalpur, Bapunagar and Shah Alam areas. In all, 36 cities and towns have been placed under curfew in the state and shoot-at-sight orders issued against arsonists.

Police had to open fire at many places killing 16 people in the state as mobs went on rampage defying curfew orders.

Nine more deaths in police firing were reported from different places taking the number of arsonists killed in police action to 16, a top official source said.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, under attack for total inaction, gave shoot-at-sight orders in Ahmedabad as violence continued unabated.

In Ahmedabad, police lobbed teargas shells on stone-pelting mobs in the minority-dominated Shahpur locality. Nine columns of Army comprising over 3000 personnel staged flag march through sensitive areas, including Dariyapur, Shahpur, Shahibaug and Naroda, and took up positions to restore confidence of people.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from other states also on the day of nation-wide bandh called by Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Two persons belonging to minority community were killed in Aligarh and a 16-year-old boy was killed in police firing on a mob in Dungarpur district in Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister George Fernandes and Minister of State for Defence Production Harin Pathak took stock of the situation in the state.

Initially, they, however, had some difficulty trying to locate where the Army columns were deployed in Ahmedabad as their was a complete failure of communication between them.

Earlier, Shah Alam area, one of the largest minority-dominated areas of the Ahmedabad, was surrounded by thousands from all sides. Trapped journalists made frantic calls for help from the office of Gujarat Today, a local vernacular daily published from Shah Alam area in Ahmedabad city. Its Assistant Editor Alamdar Bukhari rang up several newspaper offices to persuade them to convince the police to come to the rescue. According to the latest reports, Maninagar police had been asked to send mobile vans.

Mobs set afire scores of hutments along the Chandola lake and Millatnagar where several persons were gunned down, according to preliminary reports.

Clashes also broke out near Millatnagar in Jamalpur area where mobs in thousands were indulging violence. City police contingents posted there to tackle the situation conveyed to their offices that the situation was out of their control and called for army help.

On the stretch of National Highway covering Bapunagar, Amraiwadi till Chiloda in Gandhinagar district, violent clashes were reported. Situation in Shahalam, Behrampura, Vasna, Danilimda and Meghaninagar was also reported to be tense. Incidents of stabbing were also reported from these areas where additional deployment could not be made by the city police.

Tempers ran high in Naroda area where about 30 people were burnt alive while asleep when the slum was torched late last on Thursday night. Police was trying to retrieve bodies of those killed in a slum.

A platoon of SRPF, which was sent to Naroda on Friday morning was called back by the city police as the local residents protested against delays in sending in forces on Thursday night. "We had to find out some other way to make passage for the forces in Naroda Patiya," said DCP (Control), D J Patel.

Throughout the day there was a deluge of injured coming in from all parts of the city at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. According to hospital staff most of them have burn injuries and stab wounds.


Allahabad-Mughalsarai rail traffic disrupted by VHP

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1228 hrs IST

Rail traffic was disrupted for several hours on the Allahabad-Mugalsarai section of Northern Railway after VHP activists squatted on the rail tracks as part of VHP-sponsored Bharat bandh on Friday.

The activists came to the Naini station early on Friday morning and parked trucks and other vehicles on the tracks throwing the rail movement out of gear for more than four hours, NR sources said.

After persuasion by railway authorities and the local police, the activists dispersed and normal running of the trains was restored, the sources said.

Security has been tightened to ensure safety and security of railway property and passengers, they said. Authorities have also directed the local police not to allow gathering of mob, they added.

Shoot-at-sight order issued in Ahmedabad

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1403 hrs IST

As incidents of violence continued unabated in Ahmedabad, Gujarat government on Friday issued shoot-at-sight orders to the police in the city against those indulging in arson and violence.

The announcement was made by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, official sources said.

Modi has issued directives to deal "strictly with the arsonist and if need be shoot-at-sight any person indulging in rioting activities," they added.

The Army staged flag march in Ahmedabad, Vadodra and Rajkot, the source said adding, nine columns have been deployed in Ahmedabad here and two each in Vadodra and Rajkot.

Security tightened around temples in Pak

Reuters & Agencies
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1412 hrs IS

Pakistan, fearing a backlash at home to violence in Gujarat, has thrown a security blanket around temples and residential areas belonging to minority Hindu community.

City police chief Tariq Jamil told Reuters on Friday extra police had been stationed outside temples in the volatile port city "to deter any retaliation". "We have also beefed up security in residential areas of the Hindu community in the city," he said.

He added police had also contacted the Hindu community leaders and "asked them to coordinate with the security agencies in case they received any threats". Karachi police say they fear possible protests from militants after Friday prayers, when large crowds gather at mosques.

With more than 191 people killed in attacks and riots in Gujarat over past two days, the worst communal bloodshed in a decade, the Indian government has sent troops to try and restore order.

The Pakistani press blamed the Indian government for the violence in Gujarat, which has claimed nearly 200 lives since Wednesday. "For a country like India, that likes to flaunt its secular credentials, the rise of fundamentalism among the majority Hindu community has severely dented its image," The News wrote in an editorial. Another daily The Dawn wrote that the gruesome attack on a train in Gujarat is "indeed unfortunate but that does not take away from the fact that India's self-professed and oft-repeated claim to secularism is just that: self-professed and often repeated, but not substantiated by India's track record".

"We cannot but see a parallel in this for Pakistan which has often been at the receiving end of international opinion: frequently being labelled -- usually at New Delhi's goading -- a fundamentalist state,"The Dawn said. The newspaper said unrest was the fault of Hindu hard liners who have stepped up their campaign to build a temple in Ayodhya. "The Babri Masjid's destruction had symbolised the larger malaise of (the) Hinduization of India, despite New Delhi's secularist claims," wrote The Nation, which said India's minorities "are increasingly vulnerable."

"There can be no peace in India, or the region, unless New Delhi shuns internal bigotry and adopts a foreign policy of peaceful coexistence," it wrote.


Curfew in parts of Ajmer following clashes

Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1422 hrs IST

Curfew was imposed in Kishangarh town in Ajmer district where 10 people, including five cops, were injured in a clash betwen members of two communities, a senior police official said in Jaipur.

Violence marred the the VHP-sponsored bandh across Rajasthan. In Ajmer members belonging to two communities clashed near a religious place in Madanganj-Kishanganj police area, inspector-general of police (law and order) A K Jain said.

The mob set on fire three shops and looted another, he said.

Tension erupted when VHP activists raised slogans outside a mosque and threw stones when some shopkeepers refused to down shutters, Jain said.

Police fired in the air after lathi-charge and bursting of teargas shells failed to disperse the mob. Curfew was imposed in the areas which remained tense, he said.

Jain said 24 people were rounded up in connection with the incidents. Two companies of Rajasthan armed constabulary, special task force personnel and Rapid Action Force were deployed in the troubled area, he said.

Incidents of stone throwing, arson, blockades, communaltension and violence were reported from Simalwara and Aspur in Dungarpur district and Himatgarh in Banswara district, he said. Three kiosks were burnt at Aspur in a communal clash.

Jumma namaj, an important event after Id, was held peacefully amidst tight security at all Idgah in the state, the IG said.

Incidents of violence were reported from Aligarh also where two persons were shot dead in different parts of the city in the early hours on Friday.

While one person was shot dead by scooter-borne miscreants who opened indiscriminate fire on the railway road, the second incident was reported from Naurangiabad locality where one person going on a rickshaw was killed.

District officials said that the two incidents had no link with the VHP-sponsored bandh.

District magistrate Arun Singhal said people have been asked to remain indoors and cooperate with the administration in bringing the situation under control.

Rapid Action Force and CRPF besides the civil police and PAC have been deployed in all the sensitive areas of the district to maintain law and order, he said.-----------------------------------------------------------------

All-party meet to discuss Gujarat riots

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1445 hrs IST

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has convened a meeting of prominent Opposition leaders on Friday evening to discuss the situation in Gujarat and Ayodhya.

The meeting will be held at his residence at 1730 hrs IST, official sources said.

Among those likely to participate include Congress president and Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi, senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh, former prime ministers I.K. Gujral and Chandrashekhar, Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, BSP leader Mayawati, left party leaders Somnath Chaterjee and A.B. Bardhan

Toll rises to 11 in Vadodara

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1510 hrs IST

The toll in communal violence in Vadodara has risen to 11 with the killing of three more persons in firing by police and arsonists in curfew-bound areas of Makarpura and Sayajignj police stations on Friday.

Two persons died in these firing incidents in Navayard locality in Sayajigunj police station, while one died in Makarpura, police said.

Twenty seven people, including five policemen, injured in firing, stabbing, burning and stoning were admitted in the government SSG hospital.

Earlier, four bodies were recovered from Vadsar locality in Makarpura police sation range and one from city police station, sources said.

Police resorted to firing in Makarpura, Shivaji Nagar,Yakutpura, Wagodiya Road, Nawayard and other areas of the city following the incidents of arson and looting, they said.

Meanwhile, two columns of the army are being deployed in the city to assist the local administration in bringing normalcy. Defence minister George Fernandes is also expected to visit the town later in the day to take stock of the situation.

In the curfew bound industrial town of Halol, about 45 km from here, police opened fire to disperse a mob indulging in setting on fire factories. Three factories were gutted, police said.

Bandh fails to elicit any response in WB

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1523 hrs IST

The bandh call given by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) failed to elicit any response in the state as there had been no disruption in normal activities of the common people.

School, offices, shops and establishments were open in the city and adjoining areas, and there were no reports of any untoward incident from any corner of the state.

Attendance in private and government offices were as usual like other days, and the stock exchange and other commodity markets were functioning normally.

The police said that there were no reports of communal disharmony in any part of the city and state.

Buses, trams and other major modes of public transport were plying normally.---------------------------------------------------------------

Buses attacked, rail tracks blocked in Mumbai

Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1600 hrs IST

Protesters stoned buses and blocked rail tracks in Mumbai on Friday as a general strike called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) paralysed much of the city. A spokeswoman for the city's public bus service said a stone-throwing mob damaged seven buses and hurt eight staff in Borivli as protests spread after a mob burned Ram sevaks alive on a train in Gujarat.

Some suburban trains were cancelled when groups of protesters blocked rail tracks, a railway spokesman said. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) called the strike to protest against the killing of 58 people, including women and children, in Wednesday's train attack.

The army was called out on Friday in Gujarat, scene of the train attack, to quell the spiralling violence that has killed 133 people in two days. Dealers said activity in financial markets was expected to be light after the Shiv Sena backed the strike call.


Govt rushes more troops to Ayodhya

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1622 hrs IST

At least 30 companies of para-military forces were rushed to Ayodhya where the VHP's bandh call to protest against the Godhra carnage evoked total response.
Another 70 companies of para-military forces will be reaching in Ayodhya during the next two days as part of a "security scheme" devised by the state and Central governments to ensure peace, additional district magistrate N.S. Patel said.

He said the additional forces had been requisitioned to maintain law and order in view of convergence of thousands of people in Ayodhya. Special emphasis is being laid on the security of the disputed site, Patel said. Security around the site and the approaches leading to it has been beefed up substantially and is being monitored by the officials.

Authorities have imposed strict restrictions in Ayodhya and its twin city of Faizabad including a ban on gathering of more than four people and on movement of vehicles into and inside Ayodhya.

All roads leading to Ayodhya from Lucknow, Rae Bareily, Sultanpur, Ambedkar Nagar and Gorakhpur have been sealed and entry is allowed only to those having valid security clearance. Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed in Ayodhya and Faizabad. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere, Patel said.

Shops in Thane set afire, mob baton charged

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1638 hrs IST

Police burst teargas shells and resorted to lathi charge on Friday to disperse a mob which set ablaze half a dozen shops in the town and indulged in stone-pelting during the VHP-sponsored bandh to protest killings of kar sevaks in Godhra.
The 100-strong mob moved around in the town, about 30 km from Kalyan, appealing to shopkeepers to down shutters and at some place forcibly pulling them down.
The shops, located in the heart of the town, reportedly belonged to a minority community, police said adding that a place of worship in the vicinity of the shops was, however, safe.

Fire tenders were rushed from Ulhasnagar, Kalyan and Dombivali to Murbad town to douse the fire that enveloped several shops.

Additional police force and special reserve police were deployed in large numbers to quell the mob which stoned policemen on duty. The situation was still tense, police said.

Bandh in Mumbai passes off peacefully

Express News Service
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1710 hrs IST

Even as the Mumbai city and its suburbs remained tense through the day on Friday, the bandh called by the VHP passed off relatively peacefully. With security tightened in the city, the streets wore a deserted look with most shops keeping their shutters down.

There have been 77 cases of stone throwing at the BEST buses starting at 1:30 on Friday morning at Charkope. About 14 bus drivers, six conductors and and one passenger of the BEST bus was injured.

A train was also derailed by a mob at Kandivili. Though no one is said to heve been hurt in the incidence, special squads maintained vigil at various railway stations on the harbour, central and western line.

Most of the taxis and autorickshaws in the city kept off the street after a few incidents of stone-throwing targetted at cabs in east Mumbai.

The mob shouting slogans for VHP had managed to stop trains for a few minutes at other stations like Grant Road, Chembur etc but they were quickly brought under control. The fact that the Shiv Sena did not join the VHP 'physically' is being attributed as the major cause of the low incidence of violence in Mumbai.

Govt taking steps to check violence: Advani

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1737 hrs IST

Union Home Minister L K Advani on Friday asserted that the government was taking all steps to ensure that communal violence was not allowed to worsen and voiced confidence that the situation in Gujarat would be brought under control.

The attack on sabarmati Express on Wednesday and the communal flare up in Gujarat were "so serious" that they had shaken the entire country, he told reporters here while strongly condemning the violence.

Defence Minister George Fernandes is in Gujarat and the "government believes that the situation will be brought under control," Advani said. The Army has already staged a flag march in Ahmedabad, he noted.

The Home Minister said the government's efforts were aimed at establishing peace and communal harmony in the country and that it was in constant touch with the Gujarat government.

"We will ensure that the communal situation is not allowed to escalate," he added.

Govt lacked political will to quell riots: Cong

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 1814 hrs IST

Congress on Friday said the Gujarat government lacked "necessary political will" which could have prevented much of the violence that erupted as a backlash to the attack on Sabarmati Express at Godhra.

Accusing the Gujarat government of "utter failure" in handling the post-Godhra situation, Congress spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy said that the state government with minimum sense could have anticipated the reaction. "But it failed miserably in this regard".

"We are of the considered view that if the state government had the necessary political will, most of the incidents that have taken place after Godhra could have been prevented", he said.

"The manner in which the former Mp Jaffery and his family members were killed is the living example of the state government's failure," Reddy said. Demanding deployment of the army in riot-hit areas of Gujarat, he said: "The NDA government was only saying that the army will stand by in the state but reluctant to deploy them. That is why we had to take the extra-ordinary steps to meet the President K.R. Narayanan to demand positive deployment of armed forces."

Charging BJP with spreading a canard against Congress about condemnation of the Gujarat incident, Reddy said party president Sonia Gandhi was the only national leader who had condemned it while the Prime Minister only appealed to maintain peace.

He said how the appeal of BJP national leadership, including the Prime Minister, could work while their state units were "openly conniving" with VHP during the nationwide bandh called on Friday to protest Godhra attack.


PM assures of firm resolve in tackling violence

Press Trust of India
Posted: Mar 01, 2002 at 2030 hrs IST

Concerned over the violence in Gujarat, Prime Minister and leaders of major political parties on Friday night issued a joint appeal for maintaining peace and communal harmony as Atal Behari Vajpayee declared government's resolve to deal firmly and effectively with the situation.

"The Prime Minister assures the people that government would deal firmly and effectively with the situation in Gujarat and elsewhere in the country. All of us expect the state governments to do the same," the joint appeal issued after a 90-minute meeting the leaders had with Vajpayee said.

The meeting saw government agreeing in principle with the suggestion by Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi to send an all-party delegation to Gujarat to help instil confidence among the people.

Briefing reporters later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan said that such a delegation would be sent when there would no incident for 24 hours. He said sending such a delegation now would disturb the security arrangements there.---------------------------------------------------------


140 killed as Gujarat bandh turns violent 
By Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD, FEB. 28. At least 140 people were killed, 60 of them burnt alive in two housing colonies here today, as mob frenzy reached its crescendo during the ``Gujarat bandh'' called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and supported by the ruling BJP in protest against Wednesday's torching of the Sabarmati Express.
At least 30 others were killed in police firing, stabbing and other incidents in different parts of the city while the casualty in other cities and towns in the State was put at over 50.
Shops and business establishments belonging to Muslims were targeted by mobs. About 40 were feared killed when 15 houses in ``Gulmarg'' Society in Meghaninagar locality here were set afire. At least 20 people were feared trapped in a building set ablaze in Naroda industrial area.
Among the deceased in the Gulmarg Society carnage was the former Congress member of the Lok Sabha, Ehsan Jafri, and his entire family. The Home Secretary, K. Nityanandam, confirmed the torching of the Gulmarg Society, but said he was not sure if Mr. Jafri was among the victims.
Police have recovered some 20 bodies from the Society and at least 15 more are believed to be inside the burning houses. At Naroda, efforts are being made to put off the fire before the recovery of bodies could start.
The authorities said the toll in the day's orgy of violence in Ahmedabad alone could be at least 90. The number of cases of looting and arson, particularly of the minority shops and business establishments, was officially put at 118 in Ahmedabad but the authorities admitted that they had lost count.
The authorities, for obvious reasons, refused to confirm the burning of a mosque in Surat city, the attack on the Islamic Study Centre in Baroda and the torching of the Waqf Board office in the old secretariat building in Gandhinagar. But eyewitness accounts confirmed the incidents.
The Army units, frantically called by the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, as the situation seemed to slip out of hand, started arriving in Ahmedabad and are likely to be deployed in the city on Friday.
At least five people were killed in Viramgam and four in Baroda where the house of a leading Muslim social activist was attacked. Six were killed in Derol town near Godhra. Till evening, police fired 46 rounds in Ahmedabad, in which at least 10 persons were believed to have been killed. The toll in the torching of the Sabarmati Express, meanwhile, had risen to 58 with the recovery of the body of a child late last night.
An indefinite curfew has been clamped in 26 cities and towns in the State, including parts of Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Rajkot, Nadiad, Anand and Kaira in addition to the indefinite curfew in force in Godhra since Wednesday. The skyline of Ahmedabad and Baroda was filled with black smoke emanating from the burnt shops and cabins, discarded tyres to create road blockades as well as dozens of State road transport and city municipal service buses set afire by the miscreants.
For the first time in many years, the response to the bandh call was almost total in all cities with not even a single shop or roadside cabin, petrol pump or commercial establishment open. Hooligans forced the closure of most of the State and Central Government offices in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and other cities. All schools and colleges, cinemas and other establishments remained closed. Even the cable television operators, ``under instructions'' from the VHP, were forced to suspend telecast of all entertainment and sports channels, allowing only the news channels to function during the day.
The hooligans indulging in looting and arson had a field day with police either conspicuous by their absence or, outnumbered by the attackers, looking the other way. Journalists and cameramen were also attacked at many places and their equipment damaged.
It was also perhaps for the first time that the capital city of Gandhinagar witnessed violence with groups of people attacking even the old secretariat building housing the offices of many of the State Government-owned boards.
Several minority places of worship were made the specific target of the attacks. In Ahmedabad, a mausoleum in the middle of a road in Shahibagh locality, barely a few metres from the office of the city police commissioner was razed to the ground by the hooligans with the police vehicles passing by but refusing to intervene.
Mr. Modi, who described the train attack as a ``terrorist-type'' action, said the Government had ordered a judicial inquiry. by a retired judge of the Gujarat High Court. Mr. Modi said 80 people, including two local councillors of Godhra who were believed to be involved in the train attack and the owners of the two petrol pumps suspected to have supplied fuel to the attackers, had been arrested. Both the pumps have been sealed, he said and added that the Government would not hesitate to invoke POTO or the Prevention of Anti- Social Activities Act (PASA) against the Godhra attackers.
CCS asks Army to be on standby 
By Vinay Kumar
NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which met here tonight to take stock of the situation in Gujarat in the wake of the attack on Sabarmati Express at Godhra and the subsequent incidents of violence elsewhere in the State decided to ask the Army to remain on standby. The Defence Minister, George Fernandes, is rushing to Ahmedabad tomorrow to assess the situation.
Briefing presspersons after nearly an hour-long meeting of the CCS, presided over by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, said the decision to keep the Army on standby was taken even as 11 companies of the Central para-military forces were rushed to Gujarat.
``By this evening, the Central forces would be there to assist the local police in maintaining law and order in violence affected areas in Gujarat,'' Mr. Advani said.
Gujarat incident: Angry scenes in Lok Sabha 
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. The spectre of a communal conflagration in Gujarat and the danger of its spreading elsewhere did not prevent Vinay Katiyar, BJP MP from Faizabad-Ayodhya, from virtually attacking the Government and its Ministers for daring to ask the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to roll back its temple construction plan.
The venue was the Lok Sabha and the verbal assault led to an impromptu statement from the Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, after the budget presentation. The Speaker's indulgence in allowing the statement helped cool the tempers and the budget was presented smoothly although earlier Mr. Katiyar had threatened not to allow it.
Even before the House assembled, Mr. Katiyar and fellow MP from Padrauna, Ram Nagina Mishra, were seen gesticulating and talking angrily with Mr. Advani and Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi. ``Jo Hindu hit ki baat karega, wahi desh mein raj karega (only those who are pro-Hindu can govern this country),'' the VHP activists among BJP MPs shouted. ``Ram bhakt ke hatiyaron ko phansi do phansi do (hang those who killed the Ram bhakts),'' they chanted, referring to the gruesome Godhra incident. In response Mr Advani simply stood before them with his hands folded.
In fact, for about 15 minutes even before the House proceedings began and after the Speaker took his chair, the Opposition mutely watched some BJP MPs shouting angrily at senior BJP Ministers. It seemed as if the internal bickerings within the sangh parivar had spilled out in the open, and would have also gone on air had it not been for someone quickly stopping the live telecast that was ready to present the budget to the people.
Advani's statement
Mr. Advani made a brief statement later. He said the Centre was in constant touch with the State Government. Immediately after Wednesday's attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra he had alerted States to take action to prevent communal flare-ups. A judicial inquiry by a retired High Court judge had been ordered and 40 persons arrested in connection with the incident in which 58 persons were reportedly killed. Trouble had also broken out in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Anand where four persons had been killed in different incidents.
Mr. Advani said the Government would try and find out whether only local residents were involved in the murderous attack or ``there was another angle to it.'' He indicated that in the present security environment nothing could be ruled out.
Sympathising with the anguish of members who earlier in the day had occupied the well of the House, Mr. Advani said ``there can be no two opinions on the incident, no words were strong enough to condemn the Godhra attack.'' He also added that perhaps the burning of coaches with passengers on board was the worst ever incident of violence. He promised to get back to the House when he had more information.
Echo in RS
The Godhra incident echoed in the Rajya Sabha when it met at 2 p.m. Members sought a statement from the Government and the chair said a detailed discussion could be held later.
The Leader of the Opposition, Manmohan Singh, said it was a ``ghastly tragedy which had led to loss of many lives. It was the obligation of the Central and State governments to protect the lives of citizens.'' Many other MPs expressed similar views.


Muslim leaders condemn violence 
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. In a remarkable act of civic responsibility and political maturity, ranking Muslim leaders have condemned the ``barbaric and brutal violence at Godhra.'' This public condemnation comes in the wake of the obvious inference that the members of the minority community are the most probable culprits in violence at Godhra.
``We condemn the culprits of the criminal act, whosoever they be, without any reservation, whatever the Provocation,'' said the Muslim leaders. Those who have signed the statement include Syed Shahabuddin (president, All India Muslim Majilis-e-Mushawarat), Maulana Asad Madani (president, Jamait-ul- Ulema-e-Hind), Qazi Mujahidul Islam Qasmi (secretary-general, All India Milli Council), Maulana H.R. Nomani, (president, All India Momin Conference).
Bardhan criticises Gujarat for inaction 
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. The CPI general secretary, A.B. Bardhan, today said that the Gujarat Government was not taking steps to prevent the spread of violence in the State.
Mr. Bardhan said the disturbance was caused by ``anti- social'' elements and it was not a ``communal riot''.
He said the people of Ahmedabad, with whom he was in touch, had complained that the police presence was hardly visible since most of the deployment was either at the hospital where bodies of those killed in Wednesday's incident were kept or where cremations were taking place.
PTI reports:
The Samajwadi Party president, Mulayam Singh Yadav, today demanded that the disturbed areas in Gujarat be handed over to the Army. The Centre should act immediately to bring peace in the State, he said.
Mr. Yadav, in a statement issued from Lucknow, warned against the designs of communal and disruptive forces which were bent upon vitiating the communal harmony of the country.
Speaking in Faizabad, the former Prime Minister, V.P. Singh, today said the VHP should abide by its commitment to honour the court's order in the Ayodhya case and that his Kisan Manch would plead to the Allahabad High Court for a day-to-day hearing for the speedy disposal of the case.
The VHP's stubborn attitude should not culminate in destroying peace, he said adding the Government should take necessary measures to deal with the situation in Ayodhya.
The Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee, sought the Centre's intervention to defuse tension at Ayodhya in the ``absence'' of a stable Government in Uttar Pradesh and suggested the deployment of Army there.
VHP accuses Vajpayee of 'criminal negligence' 
By Anjali Mody
NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. An unrelenting Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) accused the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, of ``criminal negligence'' and held the Union Government responsible for the attack on the Sabarmati Express in which 57 people were killed.
The VHP's joint general secretary, Omkar Bhave, told presspersons, ``if the Government had taken the right steps this would not have happened.'' Asked if the VHP was asking the Government to resign, he said, ``resignation is not the solution to all problems.''
Mr. Bhave said what had happened in Gujarat since the attack on the train ``is a reply... we are not taking it lying down.'' The VHP was warning the Government that if it did not act there would be riots across the country. ``What is happening in Gujarat will spread to all parts of the country.''
The Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, did ``bak bak (talked nonsense) on national security. He says terrorism is on its last leg while it is growing.'' The Government had done nothing to contain terrorist activity in the country and the attack on the Sabarmati Express was ``the work of the ISI,'' Mr. Bhave said.
`Temple campaign will continue'
The temple campaign would continue as planned, with the relay of people going to Ayodhya and back. There was no plan to send a larger number of volunteers. Any change in the plan would be ``at the direction of sants who are wiser than the Prime Minister.'' Mr. Vajpayee should appeal to the sants if he wanted a change in the direction, he said.
Neither the Prime Minister, nor the Home Minister had ever told the sants what the circumstances were although the sants had ``gone to them time and time again''. ``The style of the two is to evade the whole thing ... how not to give the land to the VHP0 .. how to appease the minorities,''Mr. Bhave alleged.
He brushed aside Mr. Advani's statements about the significance of the Ram temple movement to the BJP and his part in it saying, ``has he ever placed a formula in front of us .. for two years we have been standing on his head .. in this time has he ever said do it this way or do not do it this way.''
Mr. Bhave said there would be a meeting of sants in Ayodhya on March 14 when a final announcement would be made about the events of March 15.
The VHP has called for a ``nation-wide bandh .. primarily in North India'' to protest the attack on the Sabarmati Express. Announcing this, Mr. Bhave said essential services and school children who had exams would be ``exempted'' from the bandh.
Deploy Army in Gujarat: Cong. 
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, FEB 28. In a meeting with the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, late this evening, the Congress strongly demanded the Army be called out in Gujarat to control the outbreak of communal violence.
A delegation led by the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, called on the Prime Minister to express its grave concern and demand urgent steps to rein in the situation.
Ms. Gandhi handed over a letter to Mr. Vajpayee asking him to bring in the Army and urging the Government to take a serious note of the dangerous situation as also the proposed bandh.
Ms. Gandhi and the delegation once again condemned the Godhra incident. In a statement issued on Wednesday, she had condemned the dastardly killings of the train passengers and demanded strong action against the perpetrators and expressed her deep sympathies with the families of those killed in the violence.
Manmohan Singh of the Congress also condemned the incident today during his intervention in the Rajya Sabha. He demanded strong and urgent steps against those responsible for the mayhem.
Briefing newspersons after their 30-minute meeting with the Prime Minister, the CWC member, Kamal Nath said there was a total breakdown of the law and order machinery in Gujarat.
The Government should have anticipated the fallout of Wednesday's incidents and taken appropriate measures to prevent the violence from spreading, he said.
The Congress denied charges that two of its corporators were behind the murderous assault in Godhra. The party clarified that it had ``absolutely nothing to do with the two corporators,'' he said.
He was reacting to charges levelled by the BJP spokesperson, V.K. Malhotra, about the involvement of Congressmen in the attack on the VHP activists.
He accused the BJP of trying to divert attention from the State Government's mishandling of the situation.
The delegation included Arjun Singh, Ahmed Patel and Madhusudan Mistry, Lok Sabha MP from Gujarat.
`Many could have been saved'
RATLAM (Madhya Pradesh) FEB. 28. Many lives could have been saved yesterday when the Sabarmati Express was set ablaze by arsonists at Godhra, if Railway Protection Force (RPF) jawans had not left the spot following the stone pelting by miscreants, according to an eyewitness account.
The Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE), Sajjanlal Raniwal, who was in charge of S-3 and S-4 three-tier coaches of the Sabarmati Express, said here today that an armed RPF party had reached the spot soon after getting information. Despite being armed with rifles, they, however, fled in panic as soon as miscreants started throwing stones on them.
After that, he said, miscreants, equipped with sharp-edged and deadly weapons, brought about a reign of terror for more than an hour and finally set ablaze S-6 sleeper coach which was accommodating nearly 125 passengers, including 65 reserved ones.Mr. Raniwal said the express, which was running nearly seven hours late, reached Godhra from Ratlam at 7.45 a.m. yesterday.
During its 10-minute halt at Godhra, he said there was a dispute between `karsewaks' and some people at the platform, adding that it appeared that the issue was later pacified.
But somebody pulled the chain immediately after the train left the platform. As soon as the train stopped, a large number of violent miscreants, who were waiting at the stop, started stone pelting, he said.
He said guard S.N. Verma informed this to the Godhra stationmaster through his walkie-talkie. Passengers closed down the windows and doors in a state of utter confusion.
Meanwhile, some of the miscreants were heard saying ``set afire'' and they torched S-6 coach by pouring petrol, he said recalling that the fire brigade squad, which arrived on the information of the guard, could not begin carrying out rescue operation because of the stone pelting by miscreants.
He said men somehow managed to come swiftly out of the gutted coach. Women and children suffered a lot in this hour of utter confusion, he added.
After an hour, the fire brigade reached the spot with heavy police force which compelled miscreants to flee the scene.
After getting control over the situation, authorities detached the gutted coach and allowed the train to go to Ahmedabad.
He said he had run back to the station after arsonists set afire the coach. The terror of yesterday's incident was evident on the face of the Sabarmati Express' driver Rajendra Rao and assistant driver Mukesh Pachori, both of whom hailed from Ratlam.
Paramilitary forces for Gujarat 
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. The Centre today rushed 11 companies of the Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs) to violence-hit Gujarat where miscreants had attacked the Sabarmati Express at the Godhra railway station yesterday.
The decision was taken after a telephonic conversation between the Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, and the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, this afternoon. The Central forces are expected to be in Gujarat by tomorrow.
BJP president leaves for Gujarat 
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. The Bharatiya Janata Party president, Jana Krishnamurthi, and two senior leaders _ the former president, Kushbhau Thakre, and the general secretary, Sanjay Joshi _ are leaving for the riot-torn Gujarat tomorrow to hold urgent consultations with the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, on how best to tackle the communal situation.
Earlier, party sources indicated that the BJP had from the start dissociated itself from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's plan to gather `Ram bhakts' in Ayodhya and was against the building of a temple there in contravention of the Supreme Court's orders. Naturally, BJP members are not expected to take part in the VHP's programme.
But the party declined to say anything on what action it would take against BJP MPs who have been in the forefront of VHP activities. Till now the party's stand was that its MPs are free to associate themselves with the VHP at the ``personal level''. The plea was that the BJP cannot stop its MPs or members from participating in any `yagya' or any religious activity.
Catholic union condemns train-burning
By Our Special Correspondent
HYDERABAD Feb. 28. The All-India Catholic Union has condemned the train-burning incident at Godhra in Gujarat yesterday, describing it as "`inhuman and ghastly.''
The union president and the vice-president — M. E. Menezes and John Dayal, state president and secretary — S. Anthony and James Sylvester, along with others told presspersons that the incident might aggravate the communal tension in the country and called for greater vigilance so that no group, no matter what its political and religious affiliations were, could carry out violence in defiance of the law.
The leaders appreciated the "correct and timely steps'' taken by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, to deal with the situation.
The resolutions adopted by the meeting stated that the National Commission on Review of the Constitution, headed by the former Chief Justice, M. Venkatachaliah, had been silent on minority rights in all the 22 papers released by it so far, and demanded that the report of the commission, being submitted to the Government around March 12, be made public. They wanted an assurance from the Central and State Governments that the Constitutional provisions, especially those relating to educational institutions, not be diluted.
The meeting sought the removal of N. S. Rajaram, author of "Christianity's Scramble for India,'' from the Indian Council of Historical Research through which certain textbooks were being rewritten alleging that he was a known "baiter'' of Christianity and poured his bile on the beliefs of the faith, Mother Mary, Jesus Christ and Mother Teresa. His appointment, they said, would put a seal of approval on his "blasphemous hate-mongering''.
The meeting also demanded SC status to SC Christian converts because an unequal Dalit should not be discriminated against solely on the basis of religion.
Swamy demands Vajpayee's resignation
By Our Special Correspondent
CHENNAI Feb. 28 The Janata Party president, Subramanian Swamy, has demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, as a ``necessary step to save the country from sliding further into a communal holocaust''.
In a statement issued here, Dr. Swamy noted that Mr. Vajpayee's appeal yesterday to the VHP to call off the Ayodhya temple building campaign was ill-timed and rewarded the perpetrators of the massacre. "This will further encourage Islamic terror and is a shameful and unacceptable capitulation to fundamentalists''.
He said the VHP campaign had to be called off because ``it is illegal and not because 1,500-strong Muslim terrorists waylay 55 helpless and trapped women and children in rail bogies in Godhra''. Dr. Swamy added that no leader could guarantee ``security and secular order to minorities unless he can also ensure that Hindus, who are 85 per cent of the population, are equally secure and safe. There cannot be any double standards in implementing this principle''.
CBSE postpones examinations in Gujarat 
NEW DELHI, FEB. 28. The CBSE examinations for X and XII classes, beginning tomorrow, have been postponed in Gujarat till further orders.
According to a CBSE spokesperson, the examinations for both the classes scheduled to be held on March 1, 2, 4 and 5 have been postponed in Gujarat. However, examinations for both the classes from March 6 onwards would be held as per the original schedule.
Deadly spiral
THE GRISLY GODHRA (Gujarat) episode of arson on Wednesday that left 50-odd passengers of the Sabarmati Express dead — most of them Kar Sevaks returning from Ayodhya — and the backlash of mindless violence it had triggered elsewhere in the State, as rampaging mobs have in a series of reprisals hit back at the minority community and its properties, are clear, disturbing pointers to the explosive communal buildup across the country as a direct consequence of the VHP's provocative and destructive campaign for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya. What happened in Godhra, about which there are different and conflicting versions, is a dastardly act and it deserves to be condemned unequivocally and in the strongest of terms, and no provocation can even remotely be brought in to justify the slaughter of innocent people. No effort should be spared by the Government to track down the culprits and bring them to justice at the earliest, even as quick measures are taken to ensure that the vicious spiral of violence does not get out of hand and a sense of security is restored among the people.
This said, one cannot but pinpoint the harsh reality that events such as the horror of Godhra were tragically predictable as a result of the wounding and aggressive communal campaign of the VHP. It has been ruthlessly pursuing its agenda of commencing the temple construction on March 15, "come-what-may", and whipping up communal passions through mass mobilisation of Ram Sevaks — some one million of them — across the country. The whole buildup, which started gaining momentum about a month ago — with the VHP and its `sant parivar' giving an ultimatum to the Vajpayee Government to hand over the so-called `undisputed' part of the acquired land — has been typical of the much-too-familiar strategy of the Sangh Parivar, providing an ominous throwback to the runup to the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, 1992. As a consequence of the audaciously provocative ways of the Ram temple proponents — as evidenced by their determination to start moving the carved stone pillars to the building site from March 15 and the regular convergence of frenzied Kar Sevak contingents on Ayodhya from different parts of the country daily since February 24 — the situation on the communal front rapidly deteriorated, with sharp polarisation of the majority and minority community, becoming explosive by the day. The dangerous implications of such a trend for a State like Gujarat — known for its high vulnerability to communal riots and its perceived status as a laboratory of Hindutva political doctrines — are alarming. In many respects, the evolving milieu resembles what obtained during L. K. Advani's rath yatra, an event that generated communal disturbance all along its route.
To all the open and persistent threats by the VHP to flout governmental authority, judicial injunctions and the law of the land, the Vajpayee regime's response has been singularly devoid of any inclination to preempt a potential disaster. There has been on its part a shocking disinclination to make such interventions. Its attitude suggesting the maintaining of status quo at the disputed site strongly hinted of a narrowly partisan calculation that had to do with the just-concluded Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. That the strategy did not pay off is a different story. It required a horrendous episode of Godhra's dimensions for the Vajpayee Government even to make an appeal to the VHP to stop its temple construction agenda. It is only now that the Government appears moved to take such elementary preventive steps like barring entry of Kar Sevaks in Ayodhya and screening passengers of Ayodhya-bound trains. The Vajpayee administration's response is a clear case of `too little, too late'. The need of the moment, post-Godhra and given the ominous portents of the worst fears of a communal conflagration proving true, is decisive action nation-wide that asserts a `no-nonsense' approach to the VHP's law-defying Ram temple construction plan and also inspires public confidence that the Government is indeed serious about upholding the rule of law. The present political uncertainty in Uttar Pradesh following a terribly fractured mandate only casts a greater responsibility on the Centre in this regard.

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