New Delhi, Dec 27 :
In his first public statement on the 2002 sectarian riots, Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Friday said he had been “shaken to the core” by the riots. The Congress dismissed it as an “exercise in hypocrisy”.
A day after an Ahmedabad court dismissed a plea in a case relating to the communal riots, Modi, in a over 1,000 word-long blog post, termed the post-Godhra riots as a “crippling blow to an already shattered and hurting Gujarat” and the court verdict made him feel “at peace”.
“I was shaken to the core. ‘Grief’, ‘sadness’, ‘misery’, ‘pain’, ‘anguish’, ‘agony’ – mere words could not capture the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity,” said Modi on the communal riots, for which he had been accused of complicity.
“Yesterday’s (Thursday) judgment culminated a process of unprecedented scrutiny closely monitored by the highest court of the land… Gujarat’s 12 years of trial by the fire have finally drawn to an end.
“I feel liberated and at peace.”
An Ahmedabad court Thursday rejected a protest petition filed by the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the riots along with dozens of neighbours. Zakia Jafri had filed a petition in the apex court objecting to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team’s closure report absolving Modi of complicity in the carnage.
In his statement, Modi said he wanted to share his “inner thoughts and feelings with the nation at large”.
He said he took over as the 14th chief minister of the state Oct 7, 2001, and was given the responsibility to “soothe and rebuild” after the Jan 26, 2001, devastating Bhuj earthquake.
“… however, the mindless violence of 2002 dealt us another unexpected blow.”
“On one side was the pain of the victims of the earthquake, and on the other, the pain of the victims of the riots,” Modi said in his blog.
Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, called Thursday’s court verdict a triumph of truth.
Modi has been blamed for not stopping the rioters. He had also been denied a visa to US for the riots.
Attacking his critics, Modi said: “Can you imagine the inner turmoil and shock of being blamed for the very events that have shattered you!”
“For so many years, they incessantly kept up their attack, leaving no stone unturned. What pained even more was that in their overzealousness to hit at me for their narrow personal and political ends, they ended up maligning my entire state and country. This heartlessly kept reopening the wounds that we were sincerely trying to heal,” he said.
The BJP leader added that Gujarat government responded to the violence more “swiftly and decisively than ever done before in any previous riots in the country”.
Congress calls it hypocrisy
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari dismissed Modi’s blog as an “exercise in hypocrisy to say the least” and “an attempt to try and burnish his image for 2014 polls”.
“No expression of remorse changes the reality that thousands of people were massacred,” he said.
Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary termed it a “farce” and said “an apology should come from the heart”.
Prakash Javadekar of the BJP said: “Any sensitive heart will understand the pain that Narendra Modiji went though for 12 years. He is now vindicated.”
Communal riots broke in Gujarat in February 2002 after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was torched in Godhra, prompting a wave of reprisal attacks against Muslims.
A special team appointed by the Supreme Court to investigate the role of Modi and 62 other people in the violence said in 2012 it could find no evidence to prosecute the chief minister.
A court Thursday rejected Zakia Jafri’s appeal.