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Central & South Asia
India leader quizzed over riots
Gujarat chief minister questioned over 2002 riots that left 2,000 people dead.
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2010 09:05 GMT
At least 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, died
in the riots in Gujarat in 2002

The chief minister of India's Gujarat state, who is a senior member of the Hindu- nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has appeared before a panel investigating the 2002 riots that left 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead.

It was the first time that Narendra Modi, long accused by human rights groups of turning a blind eye to the pogrom, has been questioned by investigators to establish if he had a role in the riots.

Modi, dressed in a loose white shirt and white trousers, briefly greeted reporters on Saturday before entering the office of India's supreme court-appointed special investigation team in Gandhinagar, Gujarat's administrative capital.  

"I shall respond to it, fully reflecting the law and keeping in view the dignity of a body appointed by the supreme court," Modi said while entering the office.

Supreme court order

The summons follows a supreme court order last year to probe a complaint filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri, a member of parliament, who was killed in the riots on February 28, 2002.

Reports say Jafri, a former member of parliament from the Congress party, was hacked to death and burnt by Hindu extremists who stormed the Gulbarg Society, a residential complex housing Muslim families in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's largest city.

Previous investigations into the riots commissioned by the Gujarat government have absolved the state police and government of collusion or intentionally failing to stop the riots.

However, last March, Maya Kodnani, Gujarat's women and child welfare minister, was arrested on charges of leading a mob that killed more than 100 people during the riots, making her the highest-ranking state official to be detained.

The violence broke out after 59 Hindu pilgrims were burnt alive after train compartments in which they were travelling were torched. A Muslim group was blamed for the incident, but an inquiry later said the fire was accidental.

Modi is a prominent member of the BJP and has been touted as a future prime minister.

Source:
Agencies
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