Vajpayee's advice to Modi

AHMEDABAD April 4. The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, tonight announced a rehabilitation package and Central assistance for the victims of the communal riots in Gujarat while asking the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, to observe his ``Raj dharma'' without showing any discrimination between the people on the basis of caste, creed or religion.

Addressing a media conference at the Ahmedabad airport before leaving for Delhi at the end of his day's visit to riot-hit State, Mr. Vajpayee evaded a reply on the future of the Modi Government except saying that he did not see ``a change of leadership.''

He also did not give any specific answer to a question on about his opinion on the State Government's performance in handling the riot situation and said it was such a ``major tragedy'' and many people had given different opinion.

The State Government had also been criticised for mishandling the situation but ``we will have to wait for the report of the judicial commission inquiring into all aspects'' of the carnage.

He said he was confident that the State Government would ``consider'' the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission which had asked the State to order a CBI inquiry into some of the ``serious heinous crimes of burning people alive.''

He had directed Government officials to perform their duty ``without any discrimination'' and to bring to book the perpetrators of the heinous crimes irrespective of their political affiliations or otherwise, while keeping in mind that no innocent person was penalised.

He hoped that Mr. Modi would perform his ``Raj dharma'' properly under which no one would be discriminated against on the basis of caste, creed or religion. As Mr. Modi, sitting beside him, commented that he was ``exactly doing that,'' the Prime Minister added, ``I believe he is performing his Raj dharma properly.''

Mr. Vajpayee, who visited Godhra in the morning, is believed to have talked to the station master there on the circumstances leading to the train carnage. He said the Godhra incident apparently was not an ``accident'' but was a ``deep-rooted conspiracy.''

But if any ``foreign hand'' was involved behind the conspiracy would be known only after the judicial commission's report.

He disagreed that the NHRC was duplicating the efforts of the K. G. Shah Judicial Commission appointed by the State Government.

Describing as ``inhuman and barbaric'' the post-Godhra carnage in the State, Mr. Vajpayee said he was baffled how it happened.

Even tribals had for the first time been affected by communalism. He had been deeply hurt by the barbaric behaviour of people.

He rejected a suggestion that Gujarat had a long history of communal violence and said that was ``no excuse''.

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