Gujarat chief minister Minister Narendra Modi has denied having justified the killing of Soharabuddin Sheikh in a police encounter three years ago.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, in response to a petition seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against him for allegedly interfering in the administration of justice by speaking about a sub-judice case, Modi said a section of the press had misquoted him and added words in reports that he had never spoken.
The court is hearing a petition filed by Soharabuddin’s family accusing the Gujarat Police of killing him in cold blood.
Admitting that he did mention Soharabuddin in his December 4, 2007 election speech, the CM said: “The reference to Soharabuddin was made to highlight the problems related to lack of internal security and growing instances of terrorism in our country.”
He justified his speech, saying it was a political response to the speech of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, accusing his government of being “merchants of death”.
Sonia had, in an election rally on December 1 that year, said: “The truth is that in today’s Gujarat, those who run the government are liars, unethical and merchants of fear and death.”
Modi said the use of phrases like “merchants of death”, “liar” and “unethical” were unwarranted and provocative. “My speech on December 4, 2007 primarily addressed development issues in Gujarat and also contained a political response to the speech of the Congress president,” he added.
Modi requested the court to view his statement in political context. “…election meetings are held in a political environment where points and counterpoints are made by contesting parties and leaders. The statements allegedly made by me should be viewed in this context.”