A senior Indian police officer has accused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the massacre of Muslims during riots which swept the state in 2002, a report said on Friday.
In an affidavit filed in India’s Supreme Court the officer, Sanjeev Bhatt, quoted Modi as saying Hindus should be “allowed to vent their anger”, the Press Trust of India said, citing unnamed sources.
Modi, a prominent member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) touted as a future prime minister, has long been accused by human rights groups of turning a blind eye to the violence that killed around 2,000 Muslims.
He has always denied any wrongdoing in connection with the riots.
Bhatt said in the affidavit that he had attended a meeting called by Modi in February 2002 at the height of the carnage where he asked police officers to be “indifferent” to the brutality, the news agency said.
The riots came after 59 Hindu pilgrims perished in a blaze at a railway station in Gujarat, sparking an anti-Muslim backlash that resulted in some of India’s worst religious violence since independence from Britain in 1947.
Hindu mobs rampaged through Muslim neighbourhoods during three days of bloodshed.
Bhatt’s affidavit was filed in connection with a special investigation into the riots and is expected to be separately considered by the Supreme Court on April 27.
The Press Trust of India said that Bhatt confirmed the filing of the affidavit but declined to disclose its contents.
Responsibility for the train fire has been the subject of fierce dispute between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities.
Last month, a court handed down 11 death penalties and 20 life terms to Muslims convicted of burning Hindus alive in the blaze.
The trial verdicts were seen as supporting Hindu claims that the fire was a planned attack rather than the result of mob violence.
Muslims have always denied setting the train ablaze.
Meanwhile, proclaiming his innocence, Samjhauta Express train blast accused Swami Aseemanand said on Friday that he had done nothing wrong, Asian News International (ANI) reported.
“I am innocent. I have done nothing wrong,” Aseemanand, who has also been charged for plotting the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast, said while leaving the court.
The Samjhauta Express train blast was a terrorist attack, which took place in February 2007 on the Pakistan-India friendship train service in Panipat, killing 68 people, including 42 Pakistani nationals.
The accused, who had confessed his role in the Ajmer, Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Samjhauta Express blasts, turned hostile earlier last month and accused investigating agencies, including National Investigation Agency and Anti Terrorist Squad of coercing him into making the ‘confessions’.
According to ANI, he told the Ajmer Chief Judicial Magistrate that his confession to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was under coercion from investigation agencies.
“I have been pressurised mentally and physically by the investigating agencies to ‘confess’ that I was behind these blasts,” stated Assemanand in a letter submitted before the Jaipur local court.
The CBI arrested Aseemanand on November 19 last year for his alleged involvement in Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad that left nine persons dead.
AFP with additional input from news desk
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2011.