2002 massacre in Gujarat: Responsibility of local government
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The massacres in Gujarat in 2002, perhaps the most serious in recent years, were also due to the passive and partisan role of the prime minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. This is the outcome of a report by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) published in two newspapers, Tehelka and Headlines Today. The 600-page report does not lay complete blame on Modi, apparently for lack of direct evidence linking him to massacres, but nevertheless appears to be a serious blow to the image of Modi as an able administrator, and a man of good governance.
On February 27, 2002 at Godhra City in Gujarat, the Sabarmati Express was stopped and attacked by a Muslim mob. At least 58 Hindu passengers, mostly women, children and elderly who were returning from a pilgrimage to Ayodhya were burned to death. The attack triggered a violent reaction in which 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 253 people are considered missing, and 523 places of worship, including three churches were damaged. 27,901 Hindus and 7,651 Muslims were arrested.
The SIT report points the finger at Modi for not taking measures against newspapers inciting inter-religious violence. Also in August 2002 government officials led by Modi deceived the Election Commission, by presenting the picture of a normal state, in which instead tension between the two groups was growing. In spite of the attacks against Muslims, the chief minister tried to mask the seriousness of the situation. Modi’s leanings also appeared partisan and biased, at a time when the state was torn by inter-religious violence. Among other things, there are no records, documents or minutes of the meeting for the defence of the emergency law that the government should have implemented during the fighting. Modi, says the report, was "discriminatory” and did not visit the affected areas in Ahmedabad, where many Muslims were killed. And the political position of the government has weighed in the selection of judges in charge of investigations.
Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest and director of the 'Prashant' Center for Human Rights in Ahmedabad, told AsiaNews: "The revelations in the Tehelka about the SIT report confirm what most of the intellectuals and social workers and citizens have consistently stated, the role of Modi in the Gujarat massacres is undeniable. The problem is: why the SIT is sleeping? And why has the Supreme Court not taken notice? Something must be done now to ensure justice for victims. "