Magazine article Anglican Journal

Peace Plan Greeted by Scepticism

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Peace Plan Greeted by Scepticism

Article excerpt

Christian activists say they are sceptical about promises by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to restore peace to the troubled western state of Gujarat, which has been plagued by violence since mid-March when riots left more than 700 people, mostly Muslims, dead.

Prime Minister Vajpayee said he was "ashamed" about the events in Gujarat and about the fact that many people "had become refugees in their own country," in an address to Muslim victims of the riots at a refugee camp in Ahmedabad.

The communal riots broke out following the burning of a train, allegedly by Muslims, that left dozens of Hindus dead.

Prime Minister Vajpayee promised to compensate families of the people who were killed in the violence and promised two months' free food rations for the 100,000 Muslims now living in relief camps across the state.

Later, the prime minister instructed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to take "urgent steps" to contain the violence in the state.

However, Christian and secular activists expressed doubts that the prime minister's words and monetary aid would be enough.

"This will remain mere rhetoric to keep intact the prime minister's image," Ipe Joseph, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), said. …

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