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Vajpayee Appeals for Peace Among Muslims, Hindus

Xinhuanet 2002-02-27 21:06:57

¡¡¡¡NEW DELHI, February 27 (Xinhuanet) -- Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee appealed for peace and harmony among Hindus and Muslims in the country, suggesting that conflicts among whom were likely behind the attack on an express train on Wednesday morning.

¡¡¡¡Saying that his government would take all steps to ensure peaceand communal harmony in the country, Vajpayee asked the Hindu community to postpone the agitation on the sensitive temple issue in Ayodhya, a famous Holy Land in Faizabad of northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

¡¡¡¡A mosque in Ayodhya was destroyed in 1992 by fanatical Hindus, who vowed to build a Ram temple in the site, which also contended by Muslims.

¡¡¡¡Vajpayee appealed to the powerful Hindu organization, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Community, to postpone their agitation and help the government in maintenance of peace and brotherhood in the country.

¡¡¡¡According to the Press Trust of India (PTI), at least 30 passengers, many of them were Hindus, were feared killed and 37 others injured Wednesday morning when an unidentified mob attackedand set on fire four bogies of an express train in India's west state of Gujarat.

¡¡¡¡The train, which was on its way from Faizabad to Ahmedabad, wasstopped by unidentified people at a signal point near Godhra station when the chain was pulled minutes after it left the station and the mob threw stones and torched four coaches, PTI said.

¡¡¡¡Terming the incident as "tragic" and "unfortunate", Vajpayee told the media here that Ayodhya issue could not be resolved through agitational course or violence.

¡¡¡¡Preliminary report showed that the train was stopped because slogans were shouted in the train and clashes took place later, Vajpayee said.

¡¡¡¡Most of the Hindu passengers were returning from Ayodhya following a religious ceremony in the area.

¡¡¡¡The incident triggered violence in Godhra and the local authorities announced indefinite curfew and ordered shoot-at-sightto maintain peace in the town, a considerable population of which are Muslims.

¡¡¡¡Railway police at the station opened fire to quell the sudden outbreak of violence that followed that incident, PTI said, addingthat local police also opened fire in the air in several parts of the town in an attempt to maintain peace.

¡¡¡¡Home Minister L. K. Advani also condemned the incident and asked the Gujarat government to move swiftly to bring the culpritsto justice. Enditem

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