During February-March 2002, a period of extreme communal violence occurred in Gujarat directed primarily against Gujarat's Muslim community. According to Gujarat government figures over 1000 people died and at least 2,500 more were injured. Human rights organisations suggest a considerably higher death toll. An estimated 200,000 people were displaced.

The violence began with the burning of the Sabarmati Express in which 59 people, mainly Hindu kar sevaks, were killed, apparently triggering the subsequent violence against the Muslim community. What followed is often seen as a pogrom: it often well organised, rape and sexual violence were systematically used, and there was extensive participation of the police and state government officials. There is also evidence that Sangh Parivar members were stock-piling weapons well before the pogroms, leading many commentators to question whether the violence was retaliatory.

Perpetrators such as Babu Bajrangi and Haresh Bhatt have testified that the violence would not have been possible if Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat at the time, had not sent out clear directives to the administration to look the other way.


Human Rights watch report.
More detail at
The Gujarat Carnage, by Asghar Ali Engineer.