Ahmedabad, Nov. 11: J.M. Lyngdoh read the riot act in Gujarat but Narendra Modi was not listening in Godhra.
As the chief election commissioner asked the Gujarat government to submit a report on the VHP’s proposed yatra from Godhra on Sunday, the chief minister rolled into the flashpoint town saying what Lyngdoh asked politicians not to say.
Standing atop his Gaurav Rath in Godhra, Modi said members of the minority community had remained silent spectators to earlier attacks on the majority community.
“Had Muslims isolated the guilty and socially boycotted them, they would not have had to face ignominy today. They missed the opportunity. If any society gives refuge to the guilty, then criminals gain strength and it becomes difficult to control violence,” the chief minister said.
He also blamed the minority community, the Congress and Pakistan for the Godhra carnage and accused them of speaking the same language.
“We cannot burn people and speak of peace by setting free white doves. We should have the courage to oppose the wrong. It is a mutual responsibility whether we are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians,” Modi said.
He attributed the absence of violence in the aftermath of the Akshardham attack to its condemnation by Muslim leaders.
He said while the lips of Congress MPs and their leader were sealed with “Italian locks” after the Godhra incident, they raised a hue and cry in Parliament over its aftermath. “Why this double standard' Why this discrimination' Were only those killed in the rest of Gujarat human and not those burnt alive in Godhra'” Modi asked.
Modi kept up a steady stream of barbs against Sonia. At one meeting, he said: “I ask my Congress brothers if it is wrong to say Jai Sri Ram in this country. If you don’t say it here, will we have to go to Italy to say it'”
Less than 100 km away in Anand — the birthplace of Sardar Patel — the Congress today launched its election campaign with state party chief Shankersinh Vaghela attacking Modi’s “communal” agenda.
As the political temperature soared, the fragility of peace in the state was also on display. Hours after Modi launched the ninth leg of the Gaurav Yatra, four persons died in clashes in three areas. Two died in Kheda district, not very far from Dhakor — the launchpad of the Gaurav Yatra’s latest phase.
In Ahmedabad, where the chief election commissioner is camping, a crude bomb explosion killed a man.
Besides seeking details of the VHP’s yatra, Lyngdoh asked the state government to submit a report on the visuals of the burning Sabarmati Express that are being shown in the state.
Lyngdoh, who had asked politicians last week not to make communal speeches, told reporters that he would take a decision on the fate of the yatra and the style of campaigning after going through the reports.
Several individuals and representatives of NGOs and political parties who met the commission had expressed fears over the yatra, saying the VHP programme might foment communal tension.
Lyngdoh said he told senior officials of the state that “we are not going to accept a diluted stand. We have to ensure that all riot victims are given adequate opportunity and security to vote”. He said the director general of police has been asked to reach Delhi on November 18 to give a presentation on the deployment of paramilitary forces.
Lyngdoh said the international community was monitoring the state elections. “The international community is interested in the Gujarat elections as it was interested in the Jammu and Kashmir polls. So, the credibility of India’s democracy is involved. The international community is going to assess these elections on the basis of whether the riot-hit people are able to exercise their franchise,” he added.