Gandhinagar, Sept. 25: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said what was expected of him: that somehow Pakistan had a hand in yesterday’s carnage at the Swaminarayan temple. It was also no surprise that he appealed for peace.
“We must remain united and maintain our traditional spirit of brotherhood at all costs…There is no room for differences,” he said here after flying in directly from Male.
Behind the finger that pointed across the border and the hand that was raised in appeal to Gujarat and the rest of the country, there lurked a fear the Prime Minister is not alone in harbouring.
That fear has its root in Godhra and the retaliation that followed taking a thousand lives. That root was watered with blood yesterday at the temple. That fear was written into the letter the two militants carried on them — it said revenge — and would have been strengthened by the VHP’s silence on standing guarantee against violence during tomorrow’s bandh.
When will this cycle of violence end' Vajpayee did not ask this question in so many words, but meant it. “First, violence takes place somewhere and revenge is taken elsewhere. This must end,” he said.
He did not address it to anyone and he addressed it to everyone, and that does not leave out the VHP.
“It is not a question of party but is linked to the question of the country’s unity, societal security and communal fabric,” the Prime Minister added.
“We must maintain communal harmony. There cannot be any place for animosity.”
Speaking after touring the Swaminarayan temple — Vajpayee also visited the hospital where the injured have been admitted — the Prime Minister said he suspected a “conspiracy” behind the attack.
“Who were these two terrorists' Who was behind them' I think there was a conspiracy behind this outrage. The government will make all efforts to get to the root of this.”
“This is not just the handiwork of two persons. Some other powers are behind it,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani has already accused Pakistan of being behind the attack.
“First Pakistan opposed the polls. Then terrorist groups began targeting and killing election candidates. But the Kashmiri people gambled with their lives to vote in large numbers,” Vajpayee said.
“This was a slap on the face of Pakistan.”
He expressed confidence that the people of Gujarat will thwart the designs of forces across the border to disrupt communal harmony.
“The blood stains left behind after the attack on the temple would provide us an opportunity to take terrorism as a challenge and we will fight it out.”