At a time when Narendra Modi is reaching out to a cross-section of people nationally and internationally, the European Union on Thursday stressed on the “accountability” for the 2002 Gujarat riots, maintaining that the matter was of “interest” to everyone.
It also said the issue of 2002 riots figured in its meeting with Mr. Modi, who had met the EU delegation last month after victory in the Gujarat assembly polls.
“Modi came to (have) lunch with us in January at our invitation to discuss what happened in 2002. To discuss issues that have risen in terms of judicial process, accountability for 2002, to also discuss the development in Gujarat and his recent electoral victory,” said Joao Cravinho, Ambassador of the European Union to India.
Asked if the EU, which has boycotted Mr. Modi for 10 years after the riots was softening up, he said, “The accountability of what happened in 2002, I think is the matter that is of interest to Indians and is of interest for people around the world.”
He said that in India, there is a certain amount of emotion attached to what happened in 2002.
“Yesterday, I understand the chief minister went and gave his speech (at SRCC college in Delhi) which was a matter of great interest but then there were others who were very unhappy... what I know is there is a certainly a lot of emotions in this matter.
“And it is a matter that we will follow with great interest...,” he said.
Referring to last year’s verdict by a Gujarat court convicting BJP legislator Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi along with 30 others for their role in the Naroda Patia riots, he said, Indian justice might be slow but delivers.
“Some months ago, there was end of one part of judicial process which shows that justice in India may be slow but it produces results. And that has helped to look towards closure of what everybody agrees is very very terrible set of events,” he told a select group of journalists.
Last October, Britain, a member of the EU, had ended its decade-long boycott of Gujarat when its High Commissioner to India James Bevan met Mr. Modi to mark a “cordial beginning” to fresh ties, with the two discussing opportunities for greater economic cooperation.
In the first engagement with Gujarat in 10 years after it snapped all ties with the state in the aftermath of the 2002 communal riots, the British High Commissioner met Mr. Modi for about 50 minutes, discussing a range of issues, including climate change and investment.