New Delhi: Revisiting the Gujarat riots on its 10th anniversary, BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said many people were "misled" into a "retaliatory action" after the Godhra train attack but he did not share the view that Chief Minister Narendra Modi failed to act.
Jaitley also alleged that the media has ignored the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in which convictions were "negligble" but continued to highlight the 2002 post-Godhra riots despite strong police action and the state's growth under Modi.
In an article, the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha defended the role of the Modi government during the riots and maintained that not only have no riots taken place in Gujarat since 2002, the state, including its Muslim population, has seen "remarkable" development.
"The burning of compartment No S-6 in the Sabarmati Express on 27th February, 2002 was a barbaric act. It was planned by mischievous elements with the intention of generating communal trouble in the country. It stunned the society. Many were misled into a retaliatory action. The violence was so widespread that the security apparatus of the State was outnumbered. The army had to be called in to take positions. A very large number of innocents lost their lives due to this violence," Jaitley said.
He did not elaborate as to who had misled.
Fifty-nine people lost their lives after the Sabarmati express train, mainly carrying kar sevaks returning home from Ayodhya, was torched just outside Godhra railway station.
The large-scale communal violence that soon hit many parts of Gujarat in 2002 killed 1,200 people, mostly Muslims.
"The tragedy of Gujarat is that since Modi's opponents can't defeat him politically, they hide behind NGOs and a section of the media. One can only hope the Judiciary keeps out of this political thicket and remains even handed," Jaitley said.
The Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat was all praise for Modi, saying he went through a "serious test of leadership" as many had wanted to make the Godhra incident and post-Godhra riots the agenda, which he did not allow.