Sunday, March 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

49 more burnt alive, toll 400
Tension erupts in Udaipur

Ahmedabad, March 2
The uneasy calm that prevailed in Gujarat’s commercial capital Ahmedabad was shattered by the killing of seven persons this evening, even as 49 persons were burnt alive in the communal violence in Mehsana, Vadodara and Godhra today, taking the official death toll to around 320.

Unofficial estimates, however, have put the death figure around 400. The official figures went up with the recovery of more bodies from the debris of burnt houses and fresh killings early today.

Meanwhile, a few shops were set afire as two communities fought a pitched battle using sticks and bottles in Udaipur town of southern Rajasthan tonight, witnesses said.

A few houses and shops were said to have been set afire by arsonists — who had come from Gujarat — at Kotda village near the Gujarat border in the district as well.

Ahmedabad, the worst hit by the communal flare-up in the wake of Godhra train killings, was virtually back to normal but the uneasy calm was broken late in the evening when three persons belonging to minority community were torched to death at Maninagar railway station. In another incident, two persons were stabbed to death.Curfew was lifted from at least three police station areas following improvement in the situation, Police Commissioner P.C. Pande said.

Violence continued unabated in south, north and central Gujarat and 47 places in the state remained under curfew.

In the latest incident of mob fury, 28 persons, including 14 women and 4 children, were burnt alive by a mob of 10,000 persons after locking them in their houses at Sardarpur village in northern Mehsana district. In all, 25 houses were set ablaze. The police, however, was able to rescue 300 persons.

Ten persons were killed, including two in police firing, in separate incidents near Godhra. Eight persons, including three women, were burnt alive at Limdia village in Panchmahal district, police sources added.

Meanwhile, in a spurt in communal violence in curfew-bound Vadodara city today, 10 persons working in a bakery were burnt alive by an angry mob at Hanuman Tekri on the Vadodara-Dabhoi road here.

While seven of the dead, including three women and four children below five years, died on the spot, three succumbed to the burns at SSG Hospital.

When informed about the incident, Defence Minister George Fernandes, who was here to take stock of the law-and-order situation with senior Army officials and district authorities, expressed concern over the killing and said the police should take stern action against the guilty.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi told a press conference that the overall situation in the state was improving and curfew has been relaxed in 18 places in the districts of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Sabarkanta, Bharuch, Rajkot, Mehsana, Gandhinagar and Anand. PTI, UNIBack


British national killed in Gujarat

New Delhi, March 2
A British national visiting Gujarat has been killed and two others are missing in communal clashes in Gujarat, a British High Commission spokesperson in Mumbai said today.

Mohammad Aswat Nallabhai, 41, a resident of Batley in northern England, was assaulted along with three of his relatives, all British nationals.

The four, on a social visit, were on their way from New Delhi in a minibus to Lajpur village in Gujarat, when they were attacked in Himmatnagar, 160 km from Ahmedabad. PTIBack


Flag marches help check tempers
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

Ahmedabad, March 2
Even as violence spread to smaller towns of Gujarat today, more than half of the Ahmedabad city continued to be under curfew with Army patrolling instilling some confidence in people. Though the Army is not present in sizeable number and the troops mostly are moving in trucks belonging to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Flag marches have helped check tempers in the city.

Even in the localities not affected by violence, residents spent the past two nights virtually without sleep. “Amid rumours, it is fear of backlash from the other community that is keeping people awake at night,” said Avinash Desai, a local. Men in groups have been sitting in front of their houses till late night fearing an attack.

The worst sufferers have been pockets of one community in an area dominated by the other. In the Naroda area of Ahmedabad, where 60 persons were burnt alive, several persons saved themselves by jumping into the drain at the backyard of the chawl they lived in. The state reserve police, which has office right opposite Naroda, was able to rescue about 80 persons from the drain after the marauding crowds had left. Over 1300 persons have been arrested so far. Never before in the history of state has property of railways at Ahmedabad been targeted in a communal frenzy. Over 30 houses of minority community were torched by the mobs.

The state government is hoping to get forces from adjoining Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra for additional troops. More Army troops are also expected to arrive in the state, which Chief Minister Narandera Modi claims, is returning to normalcy. Back

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