After five months of riots in Gujarat state, more than 900 people are dead, most of them Muslims. Christian leaders in India are calling on the international community to compel India's government to stop the sectarian bloodshed.
India's worst sectarian riots in a decade, which began after a train fire on February 27, have left more than 100,000 homeless. The fire left dozens of Hindus dead, and some Hindus quickly blamed Muslims for the fire.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned the violence while warning against foreign intervention. But Christian leaders say that pressure from abroad is critical to stopping the violence.
"It is not a mere internal matter of India, but an issue of concern to every compassionate and democratic human being on the globe," says John Dayal of the All India Christian Council. "That's why we have been appealing to the international community to put pressure on the Indian government."
A confidential European Union report leaked to reporters concludes that the violence was not a spontaneous reaction to the train fire. The EU report says state officials planned and supported the violence.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch charged Gujarat police with collusion in the killings and property destruction. The riots were "a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims," says Smita Narula, senior South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Opposition parties, activist groups, and the independent National Human Rights Commission fault the BJP, which runs the Gujarat state government, for failing to restore peace in the strongly Hindu state.
"The government and the prime minister have failed the nation," says Sajan K. George of the Global Council of ...1
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