Saturday, October 27, 2007

State minister 'encouraged massacre of 2,500 Muslims'

UK Independent, October 27, 2007

By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent

India's largest opposition party has dismissed claims that its government in the state of Gujarat encouraged the killing of nearly 2,500 Muslims in March 2002.

The allegations against the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were made in secret video recordings by an investigative magazine which were also broadcast on local television. The BJP says the allegations are a conspiracy hatched by India's governing Congress party ahead of elections in Gujarat next month.

Tehelka magazine claimed that Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, gave Hindus the green light to attack the state's Muslims after a train fire blamed on Muslims killed 58 people.

An undercover reporter from Tehelka spent six months filming Hindu activists and BJP members, using a hidden camera. Arvind Pandya, a Gujarat government counsel, was recorded saying that Mr Modi's "blood was boiling" when he first heard of the blaze and that the minister said he "would have burst bombs" in a Muslim area of the city of Ahmedabad.

Haresh Bhatt, from a hardline Hindu group affiliated to the BJP, was filmed saying: "He had given us three days to do whatever we could. He said he would not give us time after that, he said this openly."

Last night, the BJP rejected Tehelka's claims as being politically motivated.

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