‘Hang me if I am guilty’

The ghosts of the 2002 Godhra riots refuse to die down for the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. In an interview to a Urdu newspaper, Modi said he would not apologise for the events that occurred in 2002. Instead he said he should be hanged if he found guilty for the riots.

‘Whatever I had said at that time you can check that. In 2004, I had given an interview in which I had said why should I apologise. If my government had done this, I should be hanged in public in such a way that it remains a lesson for the next 100 years so that nobody dares commit such a crime,’ said Modi in the interview.

Shahid Siddiqui, the Samajwadi Party (SP) leader who is also the editor of the Urdu newspaper, Nai Duniya, said Modi’s response that he should be hanged was answer to the question that he asked Modi. Siddiqui had asked why doesn’t the chief minister apologise the way Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh did for the 1984 Sikh riots.

In the interview when asked if he felt sad about the events of 2002, Modi said he regretted what had happened then and had also taken responsibility. ‘I apologised and you  can see what I had said in 2002,’ said Modi in the interview.

Modi said he had nothing to say if he is being accused because of political compulsion. The riots in which about 1000 people were dead had led Congress President Sonia Gandhi call Modi a ‘merchant of death’.

The Gujarat chief minister also said: ‘If I have not committed the crime, then the nation and the media especially should seek my forgiveness’.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) defended Modi and alleged that the Congress government has been trying to malign him during the past decade.

‘No one has held Modi guilty and no court has held him guilty, so there is no question of hanging,’ said BJP leader Rajnath Singh. The BJP leader added that central government has been trying to malign Modi as he has been doing good work in the state.

This interview is seen as an attempt by Modi to appease the minorites for the coming elections in the state.

The Gujarat chief minister had held a Sadbhavana fast last year in few cities of the state for an image make over. The Congress however was critical of the remarks made by Modi, ‘‘If FIR has not been filed against the chief minister of the state for the last 12 years, how do you hold him guilty,who is going to hang him,’ questioned Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
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