'Anti-Muslim' row hits India


India's National Commission for Minorities has

demanded to hear tapes containing allegedly

disrespectful remarks about Muslims made by Gujarat

Chief Minister Narendra Modi. 

It has asked the Gujarat state government to hand over

recordings of a speech Mr Modi gave at an election

rally, which was broadcast on television and published

in newspapers last weekend. 

In the speech, Mr Modi apparently blamed Muslims

living in refugee camps for the state's population

boom. He denies insulting Muslims. 

Gujarat was rocked by Hindu-Muslim violence earlier

this year, in which about a 1,000 people, most of them

Muslims, were killed. 

Many of those who were not, sought shelter in refugee


Mr Modi has been accused by opposition parties of

failing to prevent the violence. 

'No tape' 

Now the vice-chairman of India's National commission

for Minorities (NCM), Tirlochan Singh, says the

commission has asked for a copy of the tapes and the

text of Mr Modi's speech. 

The NCM is a constitutional body that oversees matters

relating to India's minorities. 

Mr Singh said: "We are still waiting for the reply of

the Gujarat Government." 

According to some newspaper reports, Gujarat's state

intelligence department has sent a report to the state

home ministry on the content of the chief minister's


The Gujarat Government has been quoted as saying it

has neither the tape nor the text to send to the NCM. 

Caution urged 

Several opposition leaders have criticised Mr Modi for

being anti-Muslim in the past. 

He was accused of not doing enough to control the

anti-Muslim riots that erupted after the burning of a

train in the town of Godhra in February. 

Kapil Sibal, a senior opposition Congress leader, says

Mr Modi has committed a criminal offence by making a

speech that could spread communal disharmony. 

Mr Sibal said: "There should be a criminal case

against Mr Modi under the Indian penal code and the

Prevention of Terrorism Act." 

Even Mr Modi's own party, the governing BJP, has

appeared uneasy at the remarks. 

Party president Venkaiah Naidu has politely warned Mr

Modi to be more cautious in future.


Curfew after fresh Gujarat violence


Curfew has been imposed in part of the western state

of Gujarat after the death of a man during police

shooting on Monday night. 

The authorities say three people, including a

policeman, were injured in the incident in the town of

Bosad in Anand district 


The police said they had to open fire to disperse two

groups of Hindus and Muslims who clashed with each


The authorities said the police intervened when the

two groups started hurling stones at each other. 

Police say the incident took place when a Muslim boy

was hit by a vehicle being driven by a Hindu man. 


Indian press reports say the mob hurled crude bombs at

policemen, injuring six of them. 

Police burst teargas shells to disperse the mob and

later opened fire. 

Nearly 1,000 people were killed in communal clashes

between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat earlier this


The Indian government has urged the Supreme Court to

allow early polls in Gujarat 

On 2 September the court backed the Election


The election commission had said the state polls vote

could be held in November or December but not in

October, as requested by the Gujarat and federal


Vigilante attacks 

The Hindu nationalist BJP head the state and federal


India's Solicitor General, Harish Salve, said if the

state elections were delayed beyond October it would

violate the Indian constitution. 

The election controversy arose in July after Gujarat's

Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, dissolved the state

assembly and asked the Election Commission for

permission to hold immediate elections in the

riot-torn state. 

Mr Modi's government had been accused by human rights

groups of ignoring, or even sympathising with,

vigilante attacks on Muslims. 

Tens of thousands of people are still living in relief

camps after their homes were destroyed in rioting.


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