MINORITY LEADERS AGREE TO MEET MODI 

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By FROM BASANT RAWAT
  • Published 12.05.02
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Ahmedabad, May 12 :    Ahmedabad, May 12:  Attempts to restore normality in Gujarat made a breakthrough today when minority leaders agreed to meet chief minister Narendra Modi for the first time since the outbreak of violence two-and-a-half months ago. As of now, however, neither representatives of the RSS nor of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad will attend peace talks organised by the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) tomorrow between leaders of both communities. The commission had set up two committees, representing Hindus and Muslims, 10 days ago and held separate meetings with leaders of the minority community and the RSS and the VHP. Tomorrow, the committee of Muslim representatives will first meet the commission where Modi's security adviser K.P.S. Gill will be present. The minority leaders have agreed to meet the chief minister after these talks in the first effort to break the ice with the government. It follows an abortive attempt earlier by the commission when its members visited Gujarat on May 2 to get the minority leaders to sit across the table with Modi. Nisar Ahmed Ansari, a representative of the 16-member committee, has confirmed that the chief minister has invited them and that they will meet him. Sources said the credit for the success this time goes neither to the commission nor to the state government, but to Gill, who appears be making some headway in regaining the faith of the minorities in the system. No peace move can succeed, though, without the participation of the Sangh and the VHP, and there is no progress on this front. At the meeting tomorrow between the commission and the Muslim committee, the counterpart Hindu group has not been invited. It is not even meeting the commission separately. Social defence secretary R.M. Patel, who has invited minority leaders to the meeting, said he had not informed VHP leaders. "I was not told to invite VHP leaders. I do not know why," he said. Sangh and VHP leaders have said they would not take part in any peace initiative until the commission clarifies its views. "We read a newspaper report in which the NCM blamed us for engineering communal riots. If this is the perception of the NCM about us, I think there is no point in meeting the commission. I think the commission should not meet any organisation which has been accused," said a VHP leader when asked if the parishad would reconsider its decision if the commission or Gill invited them for talks. VHP state unit general secretary Dilip Trivedi said they had not been invited "though we are open to dialogue and any efforts for the restoration of peace". "But even if we are invited, the VHP has no intention of attending," he said. Trivedi said the VHP had sent a fax to the commission asking it to clarify whether it considers the "representatives of Hindu organisations as the culprit". "But we have not yet got the reply from the NCM. Unless we get a satisfactory answer we will not meet the NCM or any minority leaders."