http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia_china/story.jsp?story=285447 By Peter Popham in Delhi 16 April 2002 The pogroms that erupted in the state of Gujarat six weeks ago continue to haunt India. Yesterday three more people died in violent clashes in the city of Ahmedabad and a curfew was clamped on affected areas. The Hindustan Times, a national newspaper, claimed that a secret internal report prepared by British diplomats here for the Foreign Office put the death toll in the state at about 2,000 * nearly 1,200 more than the official figure * and stated that the violence was not spontaneous but planned. A spokesman for the British high commission in Delhi said: "We will neither confirm nor deny what was in the report because we do not comment on leaks." But the report conforms to what non-government organisations have been claiming about the true scale of the carnage, in which the overwhelming majority of the victims were Muslims. Both houses of India's parliament were forced to adjourn in uproar yesterday as opposition MPs attacked the government for failing to control the violence. "Today Gujarat is burning, tomorrow the country will burn," said Satyavrat Chaturvedi of the Congress party. The opposition is angry because the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who belongs to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which controls the ruling coalition, has not only avoided the sack for allegedly conniving in the pogroms but is being encouraged by the BJP to stand in new elections. The party appears to believe that, in a violently polarised election, the party will gain the votes of the great majority of Hindus and secure a massive new mandate in the western state. The opposition, in common with many disinterested observers, believes that the violence in Gujarat, which followed the massacre of 59 Hindu activists on a train in the town of Godhra on 28 February, was not a spontaneous eruption of Hindu emotion but meticulously planned by militant neo-fascist groups * the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and Bajrang Dal. They also believe that Mr Modi allowed it to happen. The state police, it is claimed, either did nothing or deliberately instigated violence and fired on the Muslim victims. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister, has been under enormous pressure both from the Opposition and coalition partners to punish Mr Modi for turning a blind eye to the worst communal violence in India in 10 years. But radical voices within the BJP, calling on the leadership to keep faith with the Hindu chauvinism that is the party's core ideology, now appear to have prevailed. After weeks of prevaricating, Mr Vajpayee has now made clear that Mr Modi's sacking is out of the question. At a BJP conference in Goa on Friday he even jumped on to the Muslim-bashing bandwagon. He said in a speech: "Wherever there are Muslims, they do not want to live with others [of different faiths]. Instead of living peacefully, they want to preach and propagate their religion by creating terror in the minds of others." This broadside delighted his audience of activists but it is an approach that puts the survival of the ruling coalition, which has two more years to run if it can sustain its majority, in doubt. For years Mr Vajpayee has specialised in putting a moderate, secular face on his party. His sudden return to ideological basics has helped to unite the opposition in hostility to the BJP, and has come close to bouncing his party's most important coalition partner, the Telugu Desam Party from Andhra Pradesh, into the opposition camp, too. If the opposition can force a vote on Gujarat in parliament, the government might not have enough votes to win it. Indian politics has taken an ugly turn. After several electoral setbacks in recent months, the BJP has returned to the communal politics that once made it a parliamentary leper. The long-term result is anybody's guess. If it succeeds in galvanising Hindu votes across India, more pogroms like those of Gujarat may be on the way. But if the party continues to lose ground, the murderous thugs who support it may prove even more unruly.