A well-planned conspiracy was hatched against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre and the BJP-led Gujarat government, Narendra Modi said in an interview, referring to the Godhra train burning and the subsequent tension that gripped the state.
BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi addressing a rally in Mandla for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. (HT photo)
In a rare interview aired on NewsX on Monday night, Modi talked in length about the attack on Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002, that sparked the Gujarat riots.
The interview, NewsX said, was excerpts of footage recorded by academician and writer Madhu Kishwar.
Modi said the moment he heard the news, he knew it was very serious. According to Modi, he ordered a curfew in Godhra and directed officials to ensure that other passengers in the train reached Ahmedabad safely. As many as 59 passengers, mostly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, were killed in the train blaze.
The curfew was imposed at 9.45am, around two hours after the burning of the train. Modi said he also directed officials to beef up security measures at all stations. According to the Gujarat chief minister, the officials told him that he was overreacting.
It was the budget session of the assembly. Modi said he reached Godhra in a single-engine helicopter, which, his officials warned, was not fit for VIP movement. Modi told them that he was not a VIP.
Modi returned to Ahmedabad after his visit to Godhra and issued a statement, saying the Gujarat government was committed to protecting the people.
He said a conspiracy was hatched against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and the Gujarat government. Substantiating his claims, Modi said within hours of the Godhra incident, an email claiming some kar sevaks had misbehaved with a woman was in circulation.
Modi, who is accused of seeking the army's help late, said he wanted to deploy the force at the earliest to put a lid on the escalating tension. According to Modi, he was told that the army was on Jodhpur border.
He said his main objective from Day One was peace. Modi alleged the media played up the opponents' view.
According to a recently published book by British author and journalist Andy Marino, Modi is "sad" that the riots broke out and wanted to quit from the chief minister's post. But the book also says he has no feelings of guilt.
Read: Modi sad but has no guilt over riots, says book
Official records say of more than 1,200 people killed in the riots after the Godhra tragedy, nearly 950 were Muslims.
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