KARACHI: Indian Home Minister Amit Shah has said the “perpetrators of violence” in Gujarat were taught a lesson in 2002 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in an apparent reference to the widespread riots that saw thousands of deaths, mostly Muslims, Dawn.com reported.

According to Press Trust of India (PTI), Mr Shah made the remarks on Friday while addressing a campaign rally in Mahudha town of India’s western state of Gujarat where state polls are due next month.

“They tried to create a problem for [Prime Minister] Narendra Bhai [Modi], but he taught them such a lesson that they have not dared to do anything till 2022,” Shah said while addressing the rally in Gujarati. “The BJP government has established peace in Gujarat.”

Mr Modi, who was then Gujarat’s chief minister, is widely questioned for his role in the state-wide violence that broke out after 59 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were killed in a fire inside the Sabarmati Express train near the Godhra railway station in Gujarat.

Says ‘anti-social elements’ were taught a lesson in 2002

Hindu extremists blamed Muslims for the blaze — the cause of which is disputed to date — and rampaged through Muslim neighbourhoods in several cities seeking reprisals during three days of bloodshed.

According to AFP, more than 1,000 people were killed during the riots.

Mr Shah, who is a central leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party and a close ally of PM Modi, claimed that the state had witnessed riots because perpetrators became “habitual of indulging in violence”.

He accused the Congress party of “inciting” people of different communities and castes to fight against each other, PTI reported.

“Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society,” he said.

Congress, one of the leading opposition parties in India, last held power in the state in March 1995, followed by a three-year rule by the Rashtriya Janata Party, a splinter group of the BJP. Since 1998, BJP has been in power.

“But after they were taught a lesson in 2002, these elements left that path. They refrained from indulging in violence from 2002 till 2022, PTI quoted him as saying.

He added that the BJP has established permanent peace in Gujarat by taking strict action against those who used to indulge in communal violence.

According to NDTV, Mr Shah also thanked PM Modi for abrogating Article 370 which gave special autonomy to held Kashmir.

He was referring to the August 2019 action which rescinded the special status of the region, allowing people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property and settle there permanently.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022

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