Breaking his silence for the first time on the 2002 communal riots, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that the charges that he and his government were involved in the riots were “unfounded and false.”
In an open letter to the people of Gujarat, Mr. Modi said he believed that the Supreme Court's Monday order had ended an“unhealthy environment” created by the “unfounded and false allegations” against him and his government.
(The Supreme Court on Monday directed a trial court in the State to take a final decision on the complaint filed against Mr. Modi by Zakia Jafri, wife of former MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gulberg Society carnage.)
For the past nine years Mr. Modi had not commented on the allegations that his government deliberately delayed preventive measures to allow the rioters to kill the minorities. He had maintained a studied silence, leaving it to the investigating agencies and courts to decide on the charges.
Mr. Modi announced in his letter his decision to go on fast for three days from September 17, his birthday, so as to “further strengthen the State's environment of peace, unity and harmony.” He was not sure whether the “vilification campaign” against him and his government would stop with the Supreme Court judgment. “One thing is certain. The credibility of those who have been spreading lies and defaming Gujarat has come to its lowest ebb.” He was certain that the people of the country would not trust such elements any more.
Though he did not claim that the Supreme Court had given him and his government a “clean chit,” he said he was planning to start a ‘sadbhavana mission' on September 17, beginning with the three-day fast, to further strengthen the “unparalleled phase of peace, harmony and development” the State had experienced in the past decade.
In an apparent reference to his critics, Mr. Modi said that for the past 10 years, it had become “fashionable to defame me and the State of Gujarat. These elements who could not tolerate the positive developments in Gujarat have left no stone unturned to defame Gujarat.” But even amid these “false propaganda, lies, conspiracies and allegations,” the State had always marched towards peace, harmony and progress, he said, and it would not waver from this path.
Pointing to the country's “unity in diversity,” he said it was the responsibility of the people of the State to strengthen unity in social life. “We have got an excellent opportunity to proceed with a positive attitude. Let us come together and contribute to enhancing the dignity of Gujarat.”