A Hindu mob burned to death 28 Muslims, including 12 children, in their homes as residents called for police help that took six hours to reach the neighborhood, a top police official said yesterday.
"We have taken out 18 bodies and found out that 12 bodies of children are still inside,"Joint Commissioner of Police M.K. Tandon said. He said officers had seen up to 10 more bodies lying inside the smoldering remains of six houses in a Muslim pocket of the Hindu-dominated Meghaninagar neighborhood.
Officers at the city police control room said they had received several phone calls from a former member of Parliament who also died in the fires, which occurred during widespread Hindu rioting in western Gujarat state.
The Hindu mobs were retaliating for a Muslim mob attack on Wednesday on a train, in which 58 people, most of them Hindus, had died.
Police said fire brigade officers were delayed by more than six hours because of roadblocks the Hindu mobs had erected on the city streets.
Earlier, the army had been called in to the city, the commercial capital of Gujarat, after 20 people were killed in statewide sectarian violence during a strike called by Hindu nationalists.
Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, said that troops would be brought in to help the civil administration patrol the streets.
In some parts of the city, police were seen standing in bunches and mobs looted and burned Muslim-owned stores and restaurants.
The police said former Parliament member, Ehsan Jefri, fired his revolver into the air to disperse a mob of some 200 people who had gathered around the houses.