Indian PM hits out at hardline Gujarat leader over Muslim remarks

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday accused the Hindu nationalist leaders of riot-scarred Gujarat state of fueling tensions with Muslims ahead of elections there.

Indian PM hits out at hardline Gujarat leader over Muslim remarks

At least 2,000 Muslims were killed in widespread riots in the western state in 2002 after Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train fire. The state government and police allegedly supported the riots.

Ahead of polls on December 11 and 16, the state's hard-line chief minister, Narendra Modi, has been accused of trying to score Hindu votes by justifying the alleged murder of a Muslim man by police in 2005.

The state government "has sought to divide the people," Premier Singh told a news conference in Gujarat's Surat city.

"I think that is a big handicap for Gujarat to move forward," the prime minister said, adding it was "not good for any political party to divide our country on communal lines."

On Friday, India's top court said it will take up two complaints against Modi -- a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- for making "inflammatory" remarks on the controversial killing, the Press Trust of India reported.

Modi had reportedly said at an election rally this week that Muslim man Sohrabuddin Sheikh "got what he deserved."

The chief minister, who is widely expected to be re-elected, asked the crowd what should have been done to the man, and many in the religiously polarised state replied: "Kill him, kill him."

The state's anti-terrorist squad gunned down Sheikh in 2005, claiming he planned to assassinate Modi, but officials have said there was no proof linking the man to any murder plot.

A court has heard that Sheikh's wife was also killed to destroy evidence of the apparently staged shoot-out.

Several Gujarat policemen were arrested on accusations of abduction and murder over the Muslim couple's killing, although it is unclear if the case is being pursued seriously.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Aralık 2007, 17:11
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