By EDWARD A. GARGAN, ( Special to The New York Times ) 1009 words
AT LEAST 200 KILLED IN INDIA AS MUSLIM-HINDU RIOTS RAGE
Published: December 8, 1992
NEW DELHI, Tuesday, Dec. 8 -
India's towns and cities were swept by rioting between Muslims and Hindus on Monday, leaving more than 200 people dead and hundreds more injured a day after militant Hindus destroyed a 16th-century mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya.
In Bombay alone, which experienced some of the worst violence, 59 people were killed, many when police opened fire on rampaging mobs.
As the Indian Government struggled to come to grips with the crisis, some ministers promised that the mosque would be rebuilt and others announced that some violent Hindu groups would be banned.
But the series of disjointed and uncoordinated statements by the officials seemed to reflect the paralysis of the Government, which remained apparently incapable of halting the rioting that claimed an increasing number of lives as the hours passed. Calls for Premier to Quit
Throughout the day, members of Parliament from opposition parties on the left and right called for the Prime Minister, P. V. Narasimha Rao, to resign for failing to prevent the destruction of the mosque, destruction that took place in the face of an order by the country's Supreme Court that the shrine be protected. Mr. Rao made no statements on Monday.
Details of the riots in India's towns and cities were difficult to come by as the Government-controlled news organizations -- including All India Radio, the Press Trust of India news agency and the government television network -- censored their reports. It was thus impossible to tell in any particular city whether it was Hindus who attacked Muslims or Muslims who were assaulting Hindus.
Violent demonstrations also took place in both Pakistan and Bangladesh on Monday. Hindu shrines in both countries were attacked and burned, and an attempted attack on India's Embassy in Dhaka was barely fended off by Bangladeshi security forces. [ Page A16. ]
The riots were the worst outbreak of sectarian violence in India since 1984, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh security guards. At that time, initial reports suggested that only a few hundred people had been killed in rioting that followed the assassination, but it later became clear that thousands of Sikhs lost their lives.
Then as now, there were also widespread charges that the Government had failed to send troops into troubled areas to quell the rioting.
Much of India was in shock as news of the mosque's demolition spread and it became apparent that the Government had failed to defend the shrine. The country's leading newspapers spoke forcefully of "national shame," "a betrayed nation," and the need to save the republic from "the scourge of hate and bigotry." Parliament Unable to Meet
But despite the editorial anguish, India remained very much unsure of itself this evening. The country's Parliament tried twice to convene Monday and failed both times as pandemonium engulfed the chamber.
The strife unleashed by the Hindu militants' attack poses a severe threat to India's constitutional foundations as a secular state. Although predominantly Hindu, the country has tens of millions of Muslims and many other religious minorities. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in religious violence when the country was created from the 1947 partition of British India after attempts to resolve Hindu-Muslim animosity broke down. Rioting involving Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other groups has taken thousands of lives since.
The destruction of the mosque, built by the Mogul emperor Babur on the spot where fundamentalist Hindus believe the god Ram was born 5,000 years ago, came despite orders by the country's Supreme Court that the edifice remain untouched and despite promises by many prominent Hindu leaders that they would obey the court.
Hindu militants labored feverishly in Ayodhya to clear the rubble of the demolished mosque, then started pouring the first concrete slabs of what they said would be a massive temple dedicated to Ram. Militants Driven From Site
But early this morning Indian security forces swept onto the site and drove thousands of Hindus from the area. Officials said the forces took the militants by surprise, and early reports indicated that few were injured on either side.
On Sunday, thousands of security troops had remained in their camps while the mosque was demolished.
In dozens of towns and cities across India, especially in those with large Muslim communities, news of the mosque's destruction provoked violent protests. Army and police troops marched aggressively through many cities in vigorous displays of force, but their presence was not sufficient to prevent the rioting.
Uttar Pradesh, the state in which Ayodhya is located, saw some of the worst violence, with Muslim homes and shops being burned in many towns. At least 25 people died.
Columns of army troops moved through Calcutta, particularly in neighborhoods with predominantly Muslim populations. In Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, 22 people were killed in clashes between mobs of Hindus and Muslims. In Ahmadabad, the capital of the eastern state of Gujarat, at least 20 people were killed and 100 injured.
A spokemsan for the Home Ministry, the agency charged with domestic policing, said that the Government intended to ban unnamed "communal organizations." He was thought to be referring to the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh, or the National Volunteer Force, a semi-fascist umbrella organization for Hindu political and religious revivalist groups.
Rajesh Pilot, the Minister of Communications, told a delegation of Muslim leaders on Monday that the Government would rebuild the mosque. He called this "the only way to restore confidence of the minority community."
Early Monday, Lal Krishna Advani, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, announced that he assumed full responsibility for the mosque's destruction and said that he was resigning as leader of the opposition. [ A senior Government official said Mr. Advani had been arrested in a police raid, the Reuters news agency reported. ]