- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 2, 2003

NEW DELHI, March 2 (UPI) — Scores of persons were injured Saturday night in religious clashes between Hindus and Muslims in India's western state of Gujarat after India thrashed neighboring archival Pakistan in a World Cup Cricket match.

Shops and vehicles were burned as Hindu and Muslims clashed after the sporting event ended.

Police officials say that more than two dozen people were rushed to hospitals across Ahmedabad city as violent mobs clashed with sharp edged weapons.

Additional troops were deployed in the city to guard the strategic areas.

Violence began minutes after hundreds of Indian supporters began dancing on the streets when the Indian cricket team outplayed archival Pakistanis in a World Cup cricket match in Centurion Park, South Africa.

Muslims in many parts of India supported Islamic Pakistan's team against their home team India.

The clash, billed as mother of sporting events between the two arch rivals, resulted in celebrations across India and a pall of gloom across Pakistan.

India's cricket team won a comfortable six-wicket win in a World Cup match against Pakistan in a match that had kept more than a billion people on edge for several weeks.

Indian victory has assured it a place in the Super Sixes - the next step in the tournament - while Pakistan is struggling to find a place in the event that it won in 1992.

Indian supporters burst firecrackers and danced on the streets most of Saturday night to celebrate the win against the archrivals.

"It was a victory (against Pakistan) without guns," cricket fan Gurpreet Kaur said.

Cricket is next to religion in the public consciousness in both nations that have fought three wars since gaining independence in 1947.

Indian authorities have banned all sporting events directly between India and Pakistan, citing Islamabad's continuous support to Islamic rebels in Kashmir.

Indian cricket team said they treated it as any other match and the better of the two tams won the event.

This was the first sporting event between the teams since 2000.

Deadly fires, stampedes and riots have been associated with previous Indo-Pakistani sporting events, and Islamabad canceled 1991 and 1993 tours of team India following threats from Hindu radicals. After a series of bombings in Bombay in 1993, Hindu leader Bal Thackrey vowed to burn Indian fields on which Pakistan was scheduled to play.

The on-field clash between the arch rival neighbors transcends athletics. National pride and ego are likely to overtake concerns about advancing in the World Cup.

Nationalism is at its peak during matches between the two cricket-mad nations. While fireworks punctuated India's jubilation Saturday night the fans in Pakistan went into an unofficial mourning.


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