Saturday, March 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Don’t get provoked, Imam tells Muslims
Threatens dharna at PM’s house
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
The Shahi Imam of the historic Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, today condemned the killing of 57 ‘kar sevaks’ at Godhra in Gujarat and appealed to the Centre and Gujarat Government to take adequate steps to control the violence.

He said he had called on Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee here yesterday who assured him that riots would be controlled effectively. If need be, the Army would be deployed in riot affected areas.

He threatened to sit on a dharna outside the Race Course Road residence of the Prime Minister if the violence was not controlled.

Addressing a congregation before Friday prayers here, the Shahi Imam appealed to Muslims not to be provoked by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal in Gujarat. He said violence was not the solution. The problem could be settled through peaceful means.

The Shahi Imam suggested that a joint delegation of both communities should visit the riot-affected areas and discuss the issue with influential persons and assure them that the culprits would be booked.

“There is no doubt that the killing of ‘kar sevaks’ at Godhra was a pre-planned act. But it is not wise to hold a community responsible before conducting any inquiry into the case. I doubt that it could be the handiwork of Muslims. But whosoever they are, they should be booked and punished. It is the duty of the government to conduct an unbiased inquiry and provide safety to the innocent being butchered in Gujarat”, the Shahi Imam said.



Puri’s seer demands ban on VHP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
Divisions within the religious leaders came into the open when Swami Adhokhsjanad Dev Teerth Maharaj of Puri today demanded a ban on the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) for “trying to disturb peace and harmony” in the country.

In a statement here, he expressed concern about continuing violence in Gujarat that had “claimed more than 200 lives” and held the state government responsible for not taking effective steps to check it.

The Swami from Puri expressed surprise asking why the BJP government was hesitant to act against VHP leaders and activists responsible for the large-scale violence and urged the Centre to reprimand the state government for inaction.

He also condemned the attack on passengers of Sabarmati Express on Wednesday at Godhra, in which 58 persons were burnt alive.

Meanwhile, president of the All-India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat Syed Shahabuddin has demanded President’s rule in Gujarat, alleging that the state government had miserably failed to check violence.

In a statement, he “condemned the planned, organised and systematic massacre of innocent people”. Mr Shahabuddin also accused the state police of remaining a mere spectator to the violence.



NHRC notice to Gujarat

New Delhi, March 1
Taking serious note of “escalating communal violence” in Gujarat and reports of police “inaction and the highest functionaries”, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today issued notice to the state government and the DGP asking them to submit a report within three days on the incidents and the measures taken to contain these.

Taking suo motu action on the basis of media reports, the NHRC said “the news items report a communal flare-up in Gujarat and what is more disturbing, they suggest inaction by the police force and the highest functionaries in the state to deal with this situation.” PTI


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