Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, while denying that he was “summoned” by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team for questioning on March 21 in connection with a 2002 riots case, said some vested interests were spreading lies to defame him and the State. He issued a three-page “open letter to the countrymen” on Monday.

Mr. Modi said that in the last 24 hours, the country witnessed a “campaign of disinformation in which a section of the media became an instrument of the disinformers.” He hoped that this section would now take corrective steps.

The Chief Minister said viewing the situation in the backdrop of events in the last 24 hours, he was convinced that some vested interests were interested in spreading the lies to “defame me and Gujarat.” This machination had “come unstuck and the people have seen through the charade.”

Justifying his silence during the thick of the controversy, Mr. Modi said the State government had always cooperated with the investigative agencies, inquiry commissions and the Supreme Court looking into Godhra and post-Godhra incidents and that was why he “never thought of giving a public statement on this issue.”

Despite the “unbearable pain, I decided to maintain silence in the belief that the due process of law would take its own course.” He said he also sincerely hoped that “the truth is not twisted by the purveyors of untruth to misguide investigations.”

“A figment of imagination”

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and eminent lawyer Arun Jaitley, who was here on a visit, said the date March 21 was a “figment of imagination” of some vested interests. What the SIT issued was not a summons but merely a “notice” in which it was clearly mentioned that the date and time of his appearance before the SIT would be fixed up “with mutual consent.” There was no question of Mr. Modi ignoring the due process of law.

The secretary of the Mumbai-based Citizens for Justice and Peace, Teesta Setalvad, who was fighting for the 2002 communal riot victims, wondered why Mr. Modi did not appear before the SIT on Sunday.

“If he is the Mr. Clean, as he always claimed himself to be, he should not have any hesitation to appear before any due process of law and come out unscathed,” she said.