The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Modi, VHP in identity clash

Ahmedabad, Sept. 26: Pakistani or Indian' Narendra Modi and his admirer-turned-critic VHP are contradicting each other in public on the nationality of the militants who stormed the Swaminarayan temple.

The Gujarat chief minister was at pains today to stress that the militants could be from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and were not “locals”.

But he did not answer a question posed by VHP leader Praveen Togadia: How can you tell between Indians and Pakistanis'

“They are definitely not locals. They may be from PoK and from dushman desh (enemy country),” said Modi, who has been scrambling to dismiss suggestions that the temple attack could have been a fallout of the riots in March.

But VHP international secretary Togadia has said that the militants could well have been “locals”. Contradicting Modi, Togadia said: “It is not possible to ascertain if someone is a Pakistani or an Indian if we go merely by how someone looks. Being from the same stock, we share similar physical qualities, including the colour of our skin.”

Asked how he could be so certain about the militants’ nationality, Modi said their modus operandi, the ammunition they carried and the kind of training they seemed to have undergone indicated that they were not from Gujarat.

He said the two identical letters recovered from the pockets of the slain militants were aimed at misguiding investigations. Their identical shoes were also meant to mislead investigators, the chief minister added.

The letters in Urdu had claimed that the strike was to avenge the communal riots. “These letters, aimed only to mislead investigations, have made some people happy to spread their theories. It is the same group of people who are spreading rumours that the militants were speaking Gujarati while entering the temple premises,” Modi said.

The chief minister has announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for information on the militants. He also promised compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the relatives of each of the security personnel who died in action and Rs 50,000 each for the injured.

“We have to investigate who was the brain behind them and who are those who have provided logistics support to the militants as they were armed with ultra-modern weapons. They also appeared to be highly experienced, motivated and trained,” he said.

Modi highlighted the government’s “success” in handling today’s bandh, which passed off in relative peace in sharp contrast to the mayhem that marked the strike that followed the Godhra carnage.

Modi said there was no communal backlash today “due to the changed stand of pseudo-secularists”, whom he held responsible for the post-Godhra violence.

“Thanks to the pseudo-secularists, this time they have not used abusive language against a particular community like they used during Godhra. And, in the process, they helped me in maintaining peace in the state,” he said.

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