Gujarat Government bars VHP from screening Godhra film
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Gujarat Government bars VHP from screening Godhra film

It did so fearing that the carnage films might reignite religious tension ahead of the polls.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2002 23:40 IST

The caretaker-government in Gujarat on Saturday banned the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), from showing a film of the Godhra carnage, for fear it might reignite religious tension ahead of the state assembly polls.

Opinion polls have shown the BJP and its main rival, Congress, are headed for a photo finish in the Gujarat election which has become the biggest test for the BJP ahead of national elections due by 2004.

Some BJP campaigning for the December 12 election has sought to exploit religious tension by focusing on Godhra carnage. Officials said the screening of the video in Godhra and nearby areas was part of a campaign by the VHP to help the BJP in the polls.

"It's in violation of Election Commission guidelines," said Manoj Agarwal, district collector of Godhra. "Moreover, it could vitiate the atmosphere. "Our men and police are already at work to seize these films."

A VHP official said the film aimed to educate voters about the "sacrifice made byVHPactivists" and was not intended to help the BJP's poll campaign.

Analysts say a huge win for the BJP in Gujarat, where voters have been polarised by religion, will boost the image of the party ahead of several crucial state assembly elections next year and the generalelections.

The Election Commission earlier banned the VHP from holding a rally in Gujarat that featured a replica of the burning train, saying it could spark religious violence in the state.

First Published: Dec 07, 2002 16:57 IST