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Presiding over massacre in streets of Ahmedabad, not a sign of strength: PM on Narendra Modi

Friday, 3 January 2014 - 1:30pm IST | Agency: ANI

A significant part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's interaction with the media at the National Media Centre here on Friday, was focussed on the BJP prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Dr.Singh appeared absolutely convinced and emphatic that having Modi as the next Prime Minister would be disastrous for India.

Throughout the media interaction, whenever, a reference was made to or about Modi, the Prime Minister did not hesitate in pulling his punches on the BJP leader.

For instance, when a reference was made about Modi as potential prime ministerial candidate, especially when it was a well known fact that he had been unable to erase the smear of the 2002 communal riots in Godhra, Prime Minister Singh said: "The strength of an individual or a party cannot be measured by the massacre of innocent people on the streets of Ahmedabad.

He further stated: "Presiding over mass murder is not a sign of strength."

He had earlier said to another question on Modi: "Without discussing the merits of Shri Narendra Modi, I sincerely believe that if he becomes Prime Minister, it will be disastrous for India.

The 2002 Gujarat violence was a period of inter-communal violence which lasted for approximately three days.

Following the initial incident there were further outbreaks of violence in Ahmedabad which lasted for approximately three weeks. Statewide, there were further outbreaks of mass killings against the minority Muslim population that lasted about three months.

The burning of a train on 27 February 2002 which caused the deaths of 58 people including many Hindu activists returning from Ayodhya, is believed to have been the cause of the incidents.

The attack is thought by many to have been carried out by a crowd of local Muslims, with some commentators calling the violence which followed an act of retaliation.

Other commentators, however, have disputed this, saying that the attacks had been pre-planned, were well orchestrated, and that the attack on the train was in fact a "staged trigger" for what was actually premeditated violence.

According to the official figures, the riots resulted in the deaths of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus; 2,500 people were injured non-fatally, and 223 more were reported missing.

Other sources estimate that up to 2000 Muslims died. There were instances of rape, children being burned alive, and widespread looting and destruction of property.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi was accused of initiating and condoning the violence, as have police and government officials who allegedly directed the rioters and gave lists of Muslim-owned properties to them.

In 2012, Modi was cleared of complicity in the violence by a Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court of India.

The Muslim community are reported to have reacted with "anger and disbelief" and Teesta Setalvad, of the NGO, Citizen for Peace and Justice, has said that the legal process was not yet complete as there existed a right to appeal.

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