After five months of riots in Gujarat state, more than 900 people are dead, most of them Muslims. Christian leaders in India are calling on the international community to compel India's government to stop the sectarian bloodshed.

India's worst sectarian riots in a decade, which began after a train fire on February 27, have left more than 100,000 homeless. The fire left dozens of Hindus dead, and some Hindus quickly blamed Muslims for the fire.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned the violence while warning against foreign intervention. But Christian leaders say that pressure from abroad is critical to stopping the violence.

"It is not a mere internal matter of India, but an issue of concern to every compassionate and democratic human being on the globe," says John Dayal of the All India Christian Council. "That's why we have been appealing to the international community to put pressure on the Indian government."

A confidential European Union report leaked to reporters concludes that the violence was not a spontaneous reaction to the train fire. The EU report says state officials planned and supported the violence.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch charged Gujarat police with collusion in the killings and property destruction. The riots were "a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims," says Smita Narula, senior South Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Opposition parties, activist groups, and the independent National Human Rights Commission fault the BJP, which runs the Gujarat state government, for failing to restore peace in the strongly Hindu state.

"The government and the prime minister have failed the nation," says Sajan K. George of the Global Council of Indian Christians. He said the EU "should withhold investment until the religious minorities in India are assured of their safety and security by the BJP government."

Related Elsewhere

For more coverage of the tensions in India and the Gujarat riots, see Yahoo full coverage.

Human Rights Watch published a 75-page report charging police officials with not only standing by while the violence occurred but also leading charges, and pointing out Muslims to attackers. New stories on the allegations include:

Rights group censures Gujarat—BBC (April 30, 2002)
Human Rights Watch says Gujarat riots 'orchestrated'Press Trust of India (April 30, 2002)

Previous Christianity Today coverage of the Gujarat riots and aftermath includes:

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Critics Assail Dialogue with Hindu RadicalsBut some Christians see talks as an opportunity to build bridges in times of persecution. (May 14, 2002)
Weblog: Human Rights Watch accuses Indian officials of role in Gujarat violenceGujarat officials cited in the death of hundreds of Muslims. (May 3, 2002)
Is the Worst Yet to Come?After 600 Indians die in last week's riots, Hindu temple plans may spur continued religious violence. (March 6, 2002)

Christianity Today articles on religious tensions in India include:

New Curriculum 'Tampering' with History, Indian Churches ProtestChristian leaders allege that a current education proposal promotes Hindu nationalism. (Dec. 12, 2001)
Law Could Curb Foreign Donations To Churches, Indian ChristiansWorry Stringent legislation is aimed at cutting off terrorist funding, but could hurt non-government organizations. (Nov. 9, 2001)
Christians Encouraged as 50,000 Dalits Leave HinduismLow-caste Hindus see conversion as their only escape from oppression. (October 11, 2001)
India's First Dalit Archbishop Holds 'No Grudge' Over Predecessor's AttackOnce "untouchable" Dalits make up bulk of country's Christians. (May, 11, 2001)
Plans to Resolve India's Interfaith Tensions Face Delays and AccusationsDid India's National Commission for Minorities plan a meeting to discredit Christians? (July 20, 2000)
Foes Claim BJP is Using Arms Training to Win Crucial Election in IndiaFears mount that reason for camps is to galvanize support for temple construction. (June 29, 2001)
Bomb Explosion During Mass Stirs Fear, Public Outcry in BangladeshSuspects linked to rash of attacks. (June 25, 2001)
India Election Results Rattle Ruling NationalistsHindu BJP "getting irrelevant day by day" say rivals. (June 13, 2001)
Despite Tensions, Indian Churches Agree to Talks With Hindu GroupsMainline churches will join talks, but other Christians say "partisan" meeting is dangerous. (Apr. 11, 2001)
India Relief Abuses RampantRadical Hindus hijack supplies in quake intervention. (Mar. 20, 2001)
In Orissa, You Must Ask the Government If You Want to Change ReligionChristian church leaders say they're trying to ignore the controversial law, but police aren't doing the same. (Mar. 12, 2001)
Churches Angry that Indian Census Ignores 14 Million Christian DalitsOnly Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist members of "untouchable" caste being counted. (Mar. 2, 2001)
India's Christians Face Continued ThreatsWe must preach what we believe in spite of Hindu pressure, says Operation Mobilization India leader. (Feb. 15, 2001)

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