Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has denied he was “summoned” by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team for questioning on March 21. He reiterated his respect for the judiciary and “commitment” to the law enforcing machinery.

For the first time since the news of the SIT issuing “summons” broke on March 11, Mr. Modi on Monday issued a three-page “open letter to the countrymen,” which also mentioned about the developments since the Godhra train carnage in February 2002, and the subsequent communal riots in the State.

The Chief Minister described the date mentioned for his appearance before the SIT as a “cook-up by some vested interests” and cried foul over “the systematic campaign of disinformation aimed at maligning Gujarat and defaming him.” Such systematic campaign was going on in the country and “spreading such falsehoods has only one single purpose — to instigate people.” He regretted that such “sinful action will only harm the working of a democratic State.”

Mr. Modi expressed his “deep sense of anguish at the systematic campaign to defame Gujarat through propagation of false reports.” He said some recent headlines in a section of the media painted a false picture of him as a villain of the judiciary and the law enforcing machinery. Reports with titles such as “SIT summons Narendra Modi,” “Narendra Modi did not appear before SIT,” and “Modi has shown disrespect to the Supreme Court and SIT” were aimed at making “baseless allegations against me and to once again defame Gujarat.”

Mr. Modi said that in view of the developments, he was “compelled to put the facts before the people of the country” that he was neither “summoned” on March 21 nor had he shown any disrespect to the judiciary and the law enforcing machinery by not appearing on that day.

Mr. Modi said he always extended “cooperation to every procedure of law” and was “committed to do so in the future as well.” It was a “matter of grave concern and needs investigation as to why and who started spreading lies about the SIT summoning him on March 21.” Those who spread the untruth even failed to realise that the day happened to be a Sunday and public holiday. “These purveyors of lies did not even once bother to check whether the key SIT officers, who are appointed by the Supreme Court, were present in Gujarat on the day in question.”

Mr. Modi said the SIT did not fix March 21 as the date for his appearance before it. The date was “invented by some vested interests and as a part of their effort to interfere in the due process of law.” The “vested interests” wanted to paint him as a person who did not respond to the due process of law.