Hindu nationalists take a hard line against India's minority Muslims

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2002

BANGALORE, India (AP) -- The ideological front group of India's main governing party took a hard-line stance Sunday toward minority Muslims in the wake of Hindu-Muslim violence.

''Let Muslims understand that their safety lies in the good will of the majority Hindus,'' said the top leadership of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, parent group of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party.

''It does no credit to the Muslim community to allow themselves to be made pawns in the hands of extremist Muslim leaders and Hindu-baiting political elements,'' the RSS said.

The RSS described as ''spontaneous'' recent Hindu attacks on Muslims in western Gujarat state, in which more than 700 people died, most of them Muslims. That followed an incident in which Muslims set fire to a train and killed 60 Hindu nationalists.

The RSS also protested that thousands of Hindus have fled neighboring Bangladesh following recent attacks by supporters of the governing Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Muslims are 14 percent of India's population; Bangladesh is 10 percent Hindu.

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