Indian shares slump in early trade on temple shootout

Wednesday, 25 September 2002, 07:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: India's benchmark share market index plunged lower in early trade Wednesday, as investors booked profit across-the-board after an overnight shootout in a temple in Gujarat stoked fears of communal violence in the country.

Dealers said the market opened nearly one percent lower as domestic institutional investors and foreign funds dropped blue-chip equities on reports of the terrorist attack in Gandhinagar, capital of one of India's leading industrialised states.

The market index, however, managed to trim some of its losses later as panic selling abated a bit on reports about the ending of the temple siege.

At mid-day, the market barometer 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index or Sensex was at 3,011.22, a loss of 11.23 points or 0.37 percent from its previous session's close.

"The temple incident comes as a major blow for the stock markets that was already reeling under a host of negative news over the last couple of weeks," said Neeraj Deewan, a senior analyst with brokerage firm Quantum Securities.

"The investors are mainly worried that this episode might trigger unrest in some parts of the country. In uncertain times bruised investors would like to adopt a cautious approach and pare positions on heavyweight counters," Deewan told IANS.

Elite Indian commandos early Wednesday stormed the Swaminarayan temple, gunning down two terrorists and ending a 14-hour bloody siege that left 25 people dead and numbed the country.

Nearly 50 commandos flown in from New Delhi were combing the sprawling temple complex here after picking out two terrorists and shooting them dead.

But fearing that a third gunman might still be around, the commandos, backed by the police, continued to comb the 23-acre complex where hundreds of devotees and tourists were present when the terrorists barged in at 4.45 p.m. Tuesday.

Once inside the shrine, the attackers opened indiscriminate fire from automatic rifles.

At least 25 people, including women and children, were killed and nearly 100 injured in the temple bloodbath that sparked fears of renewed communal violence in Gujarat that has seen terrible sectarian clashes this year.

"Some major foreign investors have also turned sellers on fears that the latest terrorist attack would again raise tensions between India and Pakistan," said a Bombay Stock Exchange broker.

In the early trade, Infosys Technologies, India's largest listed software exporter, fell 0.79 percent to 3,380, and consumer goods giant Hindustan Lever lost 0.56 percent to touch 176.05.

Analysts say the market mood, which has been badly whacked in the last couple of weeks' trade on privatisation jitters and a downturn in the U.S. markets, would continue to be cautious in the sessions ahead.

Source: IANS
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