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Violence Claims More Victims in Gujarat - 2002-05-06

Religious violence claimed two more lives Monday in India's western state of Gujarat. At least 10 people have died over the past several days. India's upper house of parliament on Monday passed a resolution condemning the violence. The country's interior minister used the occasion to accuse Pakistan of inciting tensions in Gujarat.

Authorities in Gujarat reinforced a curfew late Monday, after mobs roamed through the streets of Gujarat's biggest city, Ahmedabad.

Two Muslim men on bicycles died on Monday. A 3-year-old Muslim boy died on Sunday.

More than 900 people, mostly Muslims, have died in the worst religious violence to affect India in a decade. The violence began in late February, when 58 Hindus were killed after the train they were traveling in was set on fire by a Muslim mob.

On Monday, India's Upper House of Parliament passed a unanimous resolution, sponsored by the opposition Congress Party, which calls for federal protection and relief for the victims of violence in Gujarat. The government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee supported the measure.

Last week, Mr. Vajpayee's government defeated a censure motion on Gujarat, sponsored by the opposition in India's more powerful lower house. Opposition parliamentarians accuse Mr. Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party, which controls the Gujarat state government, of not doing enough to stop the violence.

Speaking Monday, India's hard-line interior minister, L.K. Advani, again rejected opposition calls for the state's chief minister, Narendra Modi, to resign.

Mr. Advani also accused Pakistan of being behind some of the Gujarat violence, saying Indian intelligence agencies intercepted radio messages from Pakistan to Kashmir militant groups allegedly instructing them to send funds to Gujarat to help stoke the violence. Aziz Khan a spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry on Monday rejected Mr. Advani's comments, calling them a "lame excuse" to blame Pakistan for India's own problems.