India's Gujarat continues to burn
AHMEDABAD, India -- Religious tension continues to simmer in the violence-wracked western Indian state of Gujarat after a spate of fresh bloodshed over the weekend left at least 16 dead.
The renewed violence paralyzed India's parliament for the sixth straight day on Monday with lawmakers slamming the fragile coalition government for failing to end the unrest.
Rioting in Ahmedabad accounted for most of the deaths, The Times of India reported, including a policeman who was hacked to death.
Hindu and Muslim mobs clashed in the city, hurling acid and crude bombs at each other.
Police opened fire on rioters to quell the violence, killing eight people, including a woman, the Times reported. Dozens of shops and homes in the city were also torched.
Gujarat has been plagued by religious clashes in which more than 800 have died since the February firebombing of a train carrying Hindu activists. Almost sixty people were killed in the attack that prompted a wave of revenge riots.
They were India's worst religious riots in a decade and the continuing violence has put more pressure on Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who faces his biggest crisis since taking office in 1999.
Vajpayee has been under fire over his Bharatiya Janata Party-led government's inability to contain the bloodshed.
Opposition parties and allies of the BJP have called on the prime minister to dismiss Gujarat's chief minister, Narendra Modi, who they accuse of turning a blind eye to the killings.
The issue deadlocked parliament last week as Vajpayee stood by Modi, also a member of BJP, and refused to sack him.
But the weekend's violence may fuel further demands for Modi's dismissal.
Both houses of parliament were adjourned until Tuesday after angry politicians walked out amid a flurry of demonstration to the violence.
"The BJP is running a government of killers in Gujarat. Shame, shame," lawmaker Kunwar Akhilesh Singh of the opposition Samajwadi Party shouted in the lower house, Reuters news agency reported.
On Friday, the chief cleric of India's biggest mosque warned that civil war could erupt in India if the violence against Muslims in Gujarat did not abate. (Full story)
Calling the violence, "genocide", Syed Ahmed Bukhari said that Muslims would have to "think out ways for our self-protection" in the wake of the bloodletting, Reuters reported.
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