South Asia

India: Gujarat riots records 'destroyed'

Gujarat riots
Image caption The riots left more than 1,000 dead

Official records relating to the 2002 riots in India's Gujarat state were destroyed in line with regulations, the government has told a panel probing the riots.

Documents with records of telephone calls and the movements of officials during the riots were destroyed in 2007, five years after their origin

Officials say this is standard practice and in line with civil service rules.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the riots.

The violence erupted after 60 Hindus died in a train fire. The cause of the blaze was never clearly established.

Hindu groups allege the fire was started by Muslim protesters, but an earlier inquiry said the blaze was an accident.

The Supreme Court set up a panel to investigate the riots in 2008, after allegations that the Gujarat government was doing little to bring those responsible to justice.

Government lawyer SB Vakil told the Nanavati panel probing the riots that some records relating to the riots had been destroyed according to the rules.

"As per general government rules, the telephone call records, vehicle logbook and the officers' movement diary are destroyed after a certain period," Mr Vakil was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

In April a senior police officer alleged in a sworn statement to India's Supreme Court that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in the state.

Mr Modi has always denied any wrongdoing.

The Gujarat government has responded to the allegations by saying they have already testified before a special panel investigating the riots and will wait for the court's verdict.

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