“He has expressed his pain after 12 years... and at no point has he asked for forgiveness”
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s blog in which he says he was “shaken to the core” by the 2002 riots in the state has evoked anger and scepticism among the victims of the riots.
In his letter which begins with “Dear sisters and brothers”, Mr. Modi says words such as “grief, sadness, misery, pain, anguish, agony” were inadequate to express “the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity.”
Reacting to Mr. Modi's letter, Fr Cedric Prakash of Prashant, the Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, an organisation that has worked for justice for the victims of 2002 said: “One thing is his personal feelings which have come 12 years later. Another thing is his duty as chief executive which was to ensure the protection of like and property of every single citizen and especially the victims of 2002. And this he did not do.”
Speaking from Ahmedabad, Rupa Mody, whose son went missing after the Gulbarg Society massacre — her story inspired the Hindi film Parzania — described the letter as “crocodile tears”.
Mr. Modi, she said, “has expressed his own pain in great detail but at no point has he asked for forgiveness. And what sort of pain is this that he claims to feel ? What sort of pain is it that for 12 years he has not expressed it and now on hearing of a court judgement he decides to express this great pain. The man has a heart of stone – he is not capable of pain. I am a mother who has no idea if her son is alive or not. I feel pain. Not him.”
Mr. Modi’s blog post came a day after a court in Ahmedabad rejected the petition of Zakia Jafri, the wife of Congress parliamentarian Ehasan Jafri who was killed in the Gulbarg Society attack.
Mr. Modi’s blog came a day after an Ahmedabad court rejected Ms. Jafri’s petition asking for an indictment of Mr. Modi in the Gulbarg Society attack, and for rejecting the clean chit given to the Gujarat chief minister by the Special Investigation Team.
Ms. Mody and her son had taken shelter in the Jafris’ house at the time of the attack. Her son has not been traced since that day.
Her anguish and anger were voiced by Khatun Apa, who lived in Naroda Patiya in 2002 and was a witness to the worst of the riots., barely escaping with her life at the time. The 40-year-old now lives in Citizen Nagar in Ahmedabad, a ghettoised neighbourhood of Muslims living in run down tenements with no municipal facilities.
“We called the most senior police officers, we pleaded before the SRP. All we heard was ‘It is your day to die. The order from above is to kill you all’, she recalled.
Khatun Apa, who said she would never return to Naroda Patiya, said she could still hear the crowds saying “Maro maro, jalao jalao [kill, burn]”.
“If Modi had said ‘Stop’ [the riots] would have stopped but he did not. And now he says he felt pain. He is a liar. He has written this letter to fool people but people are not idiots. More and more Hindus also see he is a liar now.”
Mrs. Mody said the letter was a “political game, a publicity stunt... he thinks saying he feels pain will get him the job of Prime Minister but it won’t.”