Sunday, March 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

My govt is being defamed, says Modi
Tribune News Service

Ahmedabad, March 9
Facing an outcry from the Opposition for his removal over the way communal riots were handled in Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi does not show any signs of strain.

A scene of a relief camp
A scene of a relief camp at Naroda on Saturday where women and children wait for their loved ones who are missing after the communal violence. — PTI photo  

He mocks those criticising his government, blames the media (Delhi media in particular), for tarnishing the image of Gujarat and pats himself on the back for bringing riots under control in 72 hours. He denies any delay in seeking Army help to check violence, blames Pakistan for the Godhra incidents and says that the five crore people of Gujarat would not tolerate attempts at giving a “distorted image” of the state.

Mr Modi appears satisfied with the response of his government to the violence which, even according to official figures, claimed nearly 600 lives. A former RSS-pracharak and bachelor, Mr Modi says that what happened in Gujarat was a reaction to the Godhra incident and the state government has done its best to contain the damage.

“There is a conspiracy to make the people lose faith in my government,” Mr Modi alleges in an exclusive interview.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: The state government is giving compensation of Rs 2 lakh to next of kin of the victims of the Godhra carnage and Rs 1 lakh for those killed in the communal flare-up afterwards?

A: The Godhra incident was not communal violence but terrorism. It was a Congress MLA who in 1992 moved a resolution in the state assembly for giving Rs 1 lakh compensation to the victims of communal violence. The compensation is being given according to the law.

Q: There are strong allegations about the involvement of members of “Sangh Parivar” in the communal frenzy that rocked Gujarat.

A: There is no religion in any inhuman act. Killing someone is not being human. We have a firm commitment to (maintaining) law and order. The inquiry into the Godhra incident would also cover the subsequent violence in the state. Gujarat is a sensitive border state and we succeeded in preventing the enemy country from destabilising the situation.

Q: What is the state government doing to win over the confidence of minorities?

A: The violence in the state was contained within 72 hours. It was an emotionally charged atmosphere.

Q: Now that violence has abated, what is your top priority?

A: Restoration of peace.

Q: The victims of violence appear to be suffering and the state government has apparently done a little to provide succour to the thousands languishing in camps.

A: This is not correct. The government is running several camps. It is also giving relief material to the NGOs working for the victims in the camps.

Q: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee described the violence in Gujarat as a blot on the fair name of the country.

A: I have not read any such remarks.

Q: Defence Minister George Fernandes had said in Ahmedabad that the state police was ill-equipped and insufficient to deal with the kind of violence that engulfed Ahmedabad and other parts of the state.

A: Mr Fernandes has clarified that he did not make such remarks.

Q: Were prominent political leaders advised against visiting Gujarat after the riots broke out?

A: I never said no to the visit of the all-party delegation as it is sponsored by the central government. The situation in the state was not conducive to visits of political leaders. I even advised my party’s President Jana Krishnamurthy against visiting Godhra.

Q: Some people see political overtones in the actions of the state government.

A: There is no discrimination. There is a deliberate attempt to defame the state government.


Cong links BJP man with Godhra accused
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

Ahmedabad, March 9
The Congress on Thursday sought to turn the tables on the BJP by alleging that Mohammad Hussain Kalota, the main accused in the Godhra massacre, was an associate of BJP leader Pratapsinh Solanki who is vice-president of the Godhra Nagar Palika.

The Congress also demanded that the accused in Gujarat riots should be tried under POTO as was being done in the case of the Godhra accused and Chief Minister Narendra Modi “whose government had sponsored terrorism in the state” should also be booked under POTO.

State PCC chief Amarsinh Chaudhary and CLP leader Naresh Rawal yesterday came out with photographs taken in 1996 which show Kalota and the BJP leader embracing each other.

While Mr Solanki was the President of the Godhra Nagar Palika, Kalota was its Vice-President in 1996.

The two are in reversed roles now with Kalota being the President and Mr Solanki Vice-President. The Congress leaders said that Kalota had been supporting the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress leaders also denied links of any of the arrested corporators with their party. “They had all contested the elections independently,” Mr Rawal said. He said that Kalota had been running a school ‘Darul-ul-ulm’ where jehadi indoctrination was being given. Mr Rawal said that the local Congress MLA, Urvashi Devi, had twice complained to the government about the activities of Kalota.

Mr Chaudhary said the Chief Minister was reluctant to use POTO in cases of post-Godhra violence as he knew the people who were responsible for it.

Congress MLA Yatin Oza said it was difficult to imagine that the intelligence had not passed information to the state government, given that a mob of 2,000 was planning an attack. The Congress leader wondered why police failed to act despite stone-pelting and arsoning continuing for more than an hour.Back

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