Sunday, February 23, 2003

Indian Charges 131 under POTA

When I first saw this headline in the Washington Post, I was quite impressed that India would finally do jusice and charge both those responsible for burning the train in Godhra last February and those ivolved with the heinous crimes against Muslims in the riots that followed. However, it seems now that only the "muslim militants" as the Post states it, involved with the burning of the train have been charged under the controversial terror law. At least Human Rights activists are appalled, although more people should be as well, but The charges have not yet been used against Hindus involved in anti-Muslim riots after the train attack. Needless to say, the current government in Gujarat is led by the same man, who bears quite some responsibility for the mass killings last year, Narendra Modi.

Police say the 131 suspects were involved in the Feb. 28, 2002, attack in which Muslim militants set fire to a train carrying Hindu pilgrims in the town of Godhra. The raid left 59 passengers dead. The suspects were charged Wednesday with breaking the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Deputy Inspector-General Rakesh Asthana said among those accused and in custody was the man police have identified as the alleged organizer of the raid on the train - Maulana Hussain Umarji, a Muslim cleric from Godhra.
Of the 131 accused, 65 are in custody. The others have not yet been arrested. No Hindus have been charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in relation to the riots. Some rights groups have put the number of dead from the riots as high as 2,000. The terrorism law was established in response to a deadly attack by militants on India's Parliament in December 2001. India accused Pakistan of being behind the raid. Islamabad denied it. Use of the law Wednesday sparked an outcry from human rights activists. "Will the law also be applied on the post-Godhra massacres? Why this blatant bias and prejudice against Muslims?" said J.S. Bandukwala, an activist lawyer.


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