Thiruvananthapuram, March 1: In his most telling disclosure since leaving office, former President K.R. Narayanan said there was 'a conspiracy' between the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state 'behind' the 2002 Gujarat riots that had prevented the army from taking action.
'There has been government participation in Gujarat riots. I had sent several letters to the then Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, and talked to him. But he did not do anything effective,' Narayanan said in a freewheeling interview to Congress legislator P.T. Thomas, who edits Malayalam monthly magazine Manav Samskriti.
The charges came when he was asked why he had appeared disturbed and sad in the last days of his presidency.
Narayanan said there were 'several occasions during my presidency when I felt hopeless and sad. There were instances when I was helpless, not able to come to the aid of individuals and the nation.'
'All these had pained me, saddened me,' he said. 'And I was sapped by my limitations'the helplessness despite the powers is a tragedy.'
Referring to the riots, Narayanan said: 'I had directed sending in the army to suppress the violence. If the state government so requests, the central government has the powers and the responsibility to send the army and take over the administration.'
'How many instances of the serial, tragic killings could have been avoided if the (army) had resorted to shooting against rioters' The slaughter could have been avoided if the army was given the freedom to stem the riots,' the former President said.
'But neither the central nor state government gave the permission. Which shows there was a central-state conspiracy behind the killings,' Narayanan said in the interview.
Looking back on his decisions in office, he regretted sending back the I.K. Gujral government's recommendation to dismiss the Uttar Pradesh government. Some decisions, he said, were better avoided, given their far-reaching repercussions.