05/23/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Delhi to pay compensation for thousands of Muslim killed or wounded

In 2002 Hindus went on a rampage in Gujarat, killing and wounding thousands of Muslims under the indifferent eyes of the nationalist-led state government. New Delhi announces a US$ 80 million compensation deal. For experts it is an attempt to secure votes ahead of the 2009 elections whose outcome remains uncertain.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Indian government has announced a US$ 80 million relief package for the victims of anti-Muslim riots in the western state of Gujarat in 2002. The families of the 1,169 people killed will receive 350,000 rupees (around US$ 8,300). Each of the 2,540 wounded will receive 150,000 rupees. The government has also announced relief for those who lost property during the riots.

In 2002 Muslim groups attacked a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, killing 59. Hindus responded by going on an anti-Muslim rampage, killing people, torching property and causing widespread violence. 

Gujarat’s state government led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did nothing to stop the violence. For the state’s Muslim community the government has also done nothing to bring justice.

For analysts the Union government’s compensation package is an attempt by the governing, secular-oriented Congress Party to attract support from Muslims ahead of next year’s federal elections.

Last year Hindu groups won in several polls. For instance in Gujarat, the outgoing BJP administration under Chief Minister Narendra Modi won again in December last year. Mr Modi was in power in 2002.

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