Gujarat minister Modi questioned at riots inquiry

28 March 2010 06:31 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The chief minister of India's Gujerat state, Narendra Modi, has appeared for the first time before a panel investigating deadly riots in 2002.

Gujarat authorities have been criticised for not doing enough to prevent the violence in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died.

Mr Modi, a leading member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), denies any wrongdoing.

The riots took place after 60 Hindus died in a train fire.

The cause of the blaze was never clearly established.

Hindu groups allege the fire was started by Muslim protesters, but an earlier inquiry said the blaze was an accident.

Tight security

Mr Modi told reporters he had been questioned for several hours by the Supreme Court-appointed panel, but gave no details of his testimony.

"I have said before, India's constitution and the law are supreme... no-one is above the law," Mr Modi was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

He was summoned in connection with the murder of a former Congress party MP, Ehsan Jaffrey, who was among dozens of Muslims killed in a residential complex in the state's biggest city, Ahmedabad.

His widow has filed a petition accusing Mr Modi of aiding and abetting his murder, a charge that has been rejected by the chief minister's BJP party.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says security was tight as Mr Modi appeared before the special investigating team.

Few people have been brought to justice for the 2002 riots, which were among the worst outbreaks of violence in decades, our correspondent says.

The Supreme Court set up a panel to investigate the riots two years ago, after allegations that the Gujarat government was doing little to bring those responsible to justice, he adds.

Mr Modi is one of more than 60 people who have been named as co-accused.

In the past, the Supreme Court has criticised the government of Gujarat for failing to protect its Muslim citizens.

Mr Modi's supporters have always said that under the circumstances he could have done little to prevent the violence. - BBC

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