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GUJARAT

Weekly Updates – 2/12

     
As the one year anniversary of the violence in Gujarat approaches, tensions between Hindus and Muslims are, once again, rising. A few events in the last week illustrate the growing danger to the fragile situation.

The BJP and Sang Parivar is exerting new pressure on the Supreme Court to lift the ban on all religious activity on the 67 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya. More recently, the VHP general secretary has asked the government for the “entire acquired land,” not just the disputed land in Ayodhya, by February 22, 2003. Given that the burning of the mosque at Ayodhya in 1992 and the beginning of construction on a temple on the same site in 2002 sparked outbreaks of widespread violence – this is a particularly provocative move.

Maulana Hussain Umarji, an iman in Gujarat, was arrested in connection with the Godhra train massacre of last year. The police claim he is the mastermind behind the attacks, but local Muslims have rallied behind him, protesting that he is a respected community leader who helped rehabilitate victims. As of yet, there have been no arrests in connection with the deaths of Muslims in last year’s events.

There is also growing concern over 650 Muslims in the Dahod refugee camps. The refugees were displaced after post-election violence on December 31, 2002 destroyed their homes. Organizers have also raised concerns over the lack of health and sanitation in the camps.

The Center for the Prevention of Genocide will be monitoring Gujarat closely in the next few weeks.

 

©2003 The Center for the Prevention of Genocide