Friday, December 27, 2013

Feel liberated, at peace: Modi reacts to court verdict

File photo of Narendra Modi
NEW DELHI (AA) - Breaking his long silence on Gujarat 2002 communal riots that killed more than a thousand people, most of them Muslims, Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 general elections, said in a blog post on Friday that he was “shaken to the core” by the communal frenzy describing it as a “harrowing ordeal” he underwent 11 years ago at a “personal level”.
“Grief’, ‘Sadness’, ‘Misery’, ‘Pain’, ‘Anguish’, ‘Agony’ - mere words could not capture the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity,” wrote Modi after a day a Gujarat court gave him a clean chit in 2002 riots.
Modi said the law of nature is that “truth alone triumphs”.
“Our judiciary having spoken, I felt it important to share my inner thoughts and feelings with the nation at large,” he said.
This is for the first time that Modi has talked in detail about his ‘feelings’ on Gujarat 2002 riots. For more than a decade, Modi has evaded questions by the media and had never said ‘sorry’ and apologized for the riots.
In a July 2013 interview to Reuters, Modi compared those killed in the 2002 riots to a “puppy” who came “under the wheel” stirring a nation-wide controversy.
“If we are driving a car, we are a driver, and someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is. If I’m a chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad,” Modi had said in the interview.
The 64-year old Modi said he was pained to be accused of the death and misery of his fellow statesmen.
“Can you imagine the inner turmoil and shock of being blamed for the very events that have shattered you,” he said.
Modi government’s handling of the 2002 riots is often criticized by international human rights groups and minorities. Modi claimed on Friday that his government had responded “more swiftly” than any previous riots in the country.
“The Gujarat Government had responded to the violence more swiftly and decisively than ever done before in any previous riots in the country,” he said.
“Gujarat’s 12 years of trial by the fire have finally drawn to an end. I feel liberated and at peace,” he said.
Modi got a major relief when a court in Gujarat ruled on Thursday that he won’t face charges of collusion in a 2002 riot case.
In the riot case, 68 Muslims including a former Congress lawmaker were burnt alive on February 28, 2002 in Gulberg housing society in Ahmedabad a day after 58 Hindu volunteers of a right-wing organization died in a train fire at Godhra allegedly set up by a Muslim mob.
The petition against Modi was filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress lawmaker, challenging the closure report of Supreme Court-appointed SIT (Special Investigation Team) which gave clean chit to Modi in 2002 post-Godhra riot case.
In her petition, Jafri had argued that Gulberg massacre was a “cold-blooded conspiracy” by Modi and 58 others to facilitate state-wide Hindu-Muslim communal violence. She also claimed that her late husband had made frantic calls to police and even Modi who refused to send help.
In a one-line ruling, Judge BJ Ganatra had said the court accepts SIT report in the Gulberg society case maintaining that Ms. Jafri can appeal the verdict in a higher court. 
Reacting to the court verdict, a weeping Jafri told a private news channel on Thursday that she was “saddened by the order but not disheartened”. Jafri said that she will appeal the court order in a high court within a month. 
Reacting to Modi’s blog post, Congress leader and federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tiwari said this is an attempt to “burnish his image” ahead of the next year’s elections.
“This is just an attempt to try and burnish his image for the 2014 elections but this is not going to fly,” Tiwari said.
“No expression of remorse changes the reality that thousands of massacred. There has to be closure, justice,” he said.
Tiwari termed the writing of the blog post as an exercise in “hypocrisy”.
“Lot of sanctimoniusness, humbug being propagated through a blog. This is an exercise in hypocrisy to say the least,” he said.
Mallika Sarabhai, artist and activist, slammed Thursday’s court verdict exonerating Modi and said it was “silly to have expected anything else but a clean chit” for Modi from a Gujarat court.

“The courts may not find evidence, but let Narendra Modi ask his conscience,” Sarabhai told a private news channel on Friday.
Anadolu Agency, December 27, 2013

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