In his first interview to an Urdu weekly after the 2002 Gujarat riots, Chief Minister Narendra Modi has said that he “should be hanged” if he is found to be responsible for the post-Godhra violence.
“If any government is responsible for the riots, it should be hanged in a public square. It should be hanged so that for the next hundred years, no ruler should attempt this. And if I am responsible, I should be hanged,” says Modi in the interview to Nai Duniya.
“In 2004, I had said in an interview, why talk of forgiveness, those talking of forgiveness are only exacerbating the crime. Now, if you want to abuse Modi for political reasons, despite his sincere efforts, then I have no answer,” he adds.
Saying that some media persons choose to forget that February has 28 days, he says: “Trouble started on February 28, I called the Army on March 1. I didn’t delay for three days. Gaali dene se pehle kuchh soch to lijiye… If we hadn’t acted (to save Muslims), who would have survived?
While Modi has spoken on similar lines in the past as well, his interview is significant as he has chosen to address the Urdu-speaking population. Besides the timing of the interview — the Gujarat Assembly elections are due later this year, it is interesting that Modi has chosen Nai Duniya, which is edited by SP leader Shahid Siddiqui and has readership in Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi.
Asked what he has done for the Muslims in Gujarat, Modi says he helped “the kite industry” and those who “live on the coast”, pointing out that they are “almost all Muslims”. Using statistics he claims to have drawn from the Sachar Committee, Modi says: “Gujarat has 9 per cent Muslims, but 12 per cent in government jobs; Bengal has 25 per cent Muslims, but only 2 per cent in government jobs. Who is secular?”
Siddiqui said the next issue would carry a “post-mortem” of the Modi interview. “This has nothing to do with the Samajwadi Party. Even when I was with the Congress, I had written against Narasimha Rao,” said Siddiqui.
Meanwhile, the BJP leadership in Delhi came out in Modi’s support today. “Nobody has found him guilty. No court has convicted him. There is no question of hanging,” said former BJP president Rajnath Singh.
“There is an attempt by this government to defame him. It is a well-planned conspiracy…to malign the BJP government which is doing good work (in Gujarat),” added Singh.
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