03/02/2010, 00.00
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Open letter calls for justice eight years after the Gujarat massacre

The group Citizens for Justice and Peace remembers the bloodbath of 27-28 February 2002, when Muslim-Hindu violence left more than 1,500 people dead. It calls for the truth to be uncovered.
New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Eight years after the Gujarat massacre, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), a group set up in the wake of the incident to find the truth and provide support for the victims, held a prayer meeting on Sunday to remember the 1,500 victims (2,500 according to unofficial sources) and renew its call for justice.

In an open letter, the CJP urged everyone not to forget the victims of those hours. It called on national authorities and media to find who was behind the violence and ensure that the guilty parties be tried.

The letter examines the course of the investigation and its problems, given the upcoming trial hearings later this month. It slams again the Gujarat government for its opposition in recent years to an inquiry by an independent authority, even though that was the goal of the central government and the Supreme Court.

The affair began on 27 February 2002 in Godhra (Gujarat) when a mob of more than 500 Muslims attacked and set fire to a train carrying Hindu pilgrims (pictured). Some 58 people died.

In retaliation, Hindu groups went on a rampage and attacked residents in Muslim areas of the state. Entire families were burnt alive in their homes. Muslims fought back. Hundreds of people simply disappeared and their bodies were never found. An estimated 61,000 Muslims and 10,000 Hindus lost their homes. Police moved in shooting at crowds, killing at least 93 Muslims and 77 Hindus. Tens of thousands of people were arrested.

The Gujarat State government (then led by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP) and police authorities were criticised for allowing things to get out of hand and then trying to cover up the truth.

In the years since the incident, the central government and the Supreme Court have set up commissions of inquiry to look into the matter. Currently, hearings are being held to find out not only who was responsible for the carnage but also who was behind the eventual cover-up that tried to smother the whole affair.

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