Friday, May 28, 2010

Priests plead for an end to Gujarat violence

Catholic priests in Gujarat have called for an end to ongoing Hindu-Muslim violence in an Ahmedabad suburb.
The violence “is a hard reminder that tensions continue to simmer between the two communities and can erupt at any time and for any flimsy reason,” said Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash who directs a human rights center in the city.
A 55-year-old man, reportedly a Hindu, died on May 26 after being stabbed during group clashes. Mobs also set fire to several vehicles during the violence that began on May 24 in the Shahpur area of the state’s commercial capital.
In a statement, he called on people “not to fall prey to violence” and asked the warring groups to stop the violence immediately. He also called for the authorities to arrest those responsible for the violence and restore peace.
The latest violence “seems to have been engineered” to divert people’s attention away from a probe ordered by the Supreme Court into the murder of a Muslim, allegedly by police officials and politicians, said Father Jolly Nadukudiyil in Vadodara.
Sohrabuddin Sheik was shot dead in November 2005 after police accused him of being a terrorist and plotting to kill state Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Father Joseph Appavoo, who visited riot-hit area on May 26, suspects a “political hand” in the violence.
He criticized the ruling pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party) and the opposition Congress Party of accusing each other of engineering riots without making efforts to bring peace.
The riot-prone western Indian state witnessed its worst sectarian violence in 2002, in which some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were reportedly killed.

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