Playing the communal card ahead of the assembly elections, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has justified the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a police encounter asserting that "he got what he deserved".
Addressing an election meeting at Mangrol in South Gujarat on Tuesday, Modi questioned the crowd as to what should have been done to a man who dealt with illegal arms and ammunition, to which it shouted back "kill him".
"Then if I have done anything wrong, let the government of Sonia Gandhi hang me," he said.
"The Congress President Sonia Gandhi speaks about terrorism. But she has lost the right to talk on this because even after a year of Supreme Court's verdict, confirming the death sentence of Afzal Guru, in the Parliament attack case, nothing has been done towards adhering to the apex court's order," Modi said.
The fake encounter of Sohrabuddin and later the death of his wife Kauser Bi in mysterious circumstances stirred a lot of controversy.
Earlier, the state government had admitted in Supreme Court that Sohrabuddin was killed in a fake encounter. Three IPS officers including DIG Border range DG Vanzara, who was formerly heading the Anti-Terrorist Squad of Gujarat police, were arrested in connection with the case.
Modi's attempt to give the election campaign a communal turn comes when just a few days are left for the crucial first phase elections to be held in 87 constituencies of South Gujarat and Saurashtra and Kutch.
Political observers say that Modi is trying to replicate his success in the 2002 elections which was largely due to fanned communal passions after the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Meanwhile, the Congress reacting to the comments of Modi on Sohrabuddin's encounter said that it did not come as a surprise to them.
"We had expected Modi to do something like this ahead of the elections," Congress leader Arjun Modhvadia said.
"Modi is justifying the (Sohrabuddin's) encounter today but his government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it was fake. At that time Modi should have gone to the Supreme Court and filed a affidavit saying that whatever was done by his police was right," Modhvadia said.