- AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters)
- The death toll in the western Indian state of Gujarat from the worst
Hindu-Muslim bloodshed in a decade has climbed above 600 after more bodies
were discovered, police say.
But they said on Wednesday he state was mostly peaceful apart from a few
Authorities scouring the burnt out wrecks of homes and shops recovered
29 bodies overnight, taking the official toll to 602.
That included 58 people burned to death after a Muslim mob attacked a train
carrying Hindu pilgrims last Wednesday, sparking a wave of reprisal killings
"These are all bodies which are being recovered from earlier incidents,
some from urban areas and some from rural areas," senior state government
official Ashok Narayan told Reuters.
"The state is in fact quite peaceful except for some tension in select
A mass burial of about 200 bodies is planned for Wednesday.
As authorities brace for a future backlash, the national government is
locked in talks with its hardline Hindu affiliate, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad
(VHP), over divisive plans to build a temple on a contested site sacred
to Hindus and Muslims.
Muslim leaders have warned the campaign to build a temple on what the VHP
regards as the birthplace of the god king Ram in the town of Ayodhya could
trigger more communal violence.
Courts have banned construction on the site until a decades-long legal
battle decides the issue.
Hindu extremists destroyed a 400-year-old mosque on the site in December,
1992, sparking nationwide riots which killed more than 3,000 people --
the worst religious upheaval since a million died when the subcontinent
was split into mainly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan in 1947.
The victims of last week's train massacre were returning from a religious
vigil in Ayodhya blessing the temple project.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, reeling from a severe setback in key
state elections and juggling an explosive military standoff with nuclear
rival Pakistan, has been accused of failing to do enough to rein in Hindu
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