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Sectarian Conflict Erupts in India

Violence: Two Muslims are stabbed amid Hindu protests over a bloody temple attack.

September 27, 2002|From Associated Press

AHMADABAD, India — Hindu nationalists held angry protest marches and mobs stabbed two Muslim men in western India on Thursday as Muslims fled their homes to seek safety, fearing revenge riots after a bloody attack on a Hindu temple.

Paramilitary police deployed in several towns in Gujarat state, and officials said they were confident that they could prevent a repetition of the sectarian violence that erupted in the state for three months earlier this year, leaving 1,000 dead, mostly Muslims.

Narendra Modi, Gujarat's chief minister, blamed Islamic militants and again accused Pakistan, India's neighbor and rival, for an attack that claimed the lives of 33 people, mostly Hindu worshippers. Modi described the attack as a meticulously planned attempt to inflame hatred between Hindus and Muslims.

Hindu nationalists, who had called for a national strike to protest the temple raid, were on the streets in the town of Baroda, carrying sharp weapons and shouting anti-Pakistan slogans, police said.

The strike shut shops, schools and transportation in many parts of the country. Police detained hundreds of activists with the World Hindu Council as the workers tried to enforce the strike across the country.

Activists shouting slogans and throwing stones stopped some passenger trains in Bombay, where most residents stayed home. Life in major cities in Uttar Pradesh state--home to the largest number of Indian Muslims--was paralyzed, including in Agra, site of the Taj Mahal, where shops and offices were closed and there was no public transport.

In Gujarat's capital, Surat, Hindu mobs stabbed two Muslim men in separate attacks, Police Commissioner V.K. Gupta said. He said both men were hospitalized and two Hindus had been arrested.

In Gandhinagar, about 150 miles north of Surat, two gunmen attacked a Hindu temple on Tuesday and set off a 14-hour gunfight that left 33 people dead, including the attackers. At least 76 others were wounded in the attack.

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