Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has strongly denied justifying Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s fake encounter, saying the remarks attributed to him were a “journalistic invention”, and part of a hate campaign against him.
The purported remarks had raised a huge controversy, provoking the Election Commission (EC) to send him a notice maintaining that the comments seemed intended to incite communal hatred. Modi, given a deadline of 11am on Saturday to reply to the notice, sought a few extra hours, and released his response in a seven-page note by evening.
Modi’s reply insisted that at no point had he “either justified the specific encounter of Sohrabuddin’s case, nor used the specific inculpatory sentences” he had been quoted as uttering in certain newspaper reports.
Referring to the newspaper article that began the controversy, Modi claimed that a key comment attributed to him was not made at all. The line had quoted Modi saying: “Well, that is what I did. And I did what was necessary.”
“The CD of my speech, which I have received from the EC, clearly indicates that this sentence was an invention of the author and not the orator,” notes the chief minister’s reply.
Modi said his speech was merely a response to Congress president Sonia Gandhi having called him a “maut ke saudagar” (merchant of death).
Defending his right to free speech, Modi said, “Free and fair election involves a debate on the political issues. When statements are made by political opponents, others are entitled to reply to them.”
His reply, which was released by BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley at a press conference here, charged the media with inventing sentences “intended to engineer a Hate Modi campaign" which was not borne out by the contents of the CD of his speech.
Modi also used the occasion to clarify his position on Sohrabuddin and fake encounters in general.
“At no stage have I controverted the affidavit filed by Gujarat government in the Supreme Court,” his reply said. “I do not support fake encounters. Encounters can occur but there should be no fake encounters. I have nowhere tried to prejudice any pending litigation.”
Asking the EC “not to be misled by motivated media reports based on falsehood”, Modi has requested the panel to withdraw the notice.