ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office on Sunday expressed concern over a recent statement by a former chief minister of India’s Gujarat state who accused his country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of facilitating the killings of Muslims in 2002 while claiming the carnage brought the administration in New Delhi into power.
The 2002 riots in Gujarat, which lasted for three days, are counted among some of the worst episodes of inter-communal violence in India in which over 1,000 people, both Hindus and Muslims, were killed. India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat when the riots broke out and was widely accused of turning a blind eye to the massacre.
Pakistan has always maintained Modi played an active role in Muslim killings which helped him position himself as the future leader of his Hindu nationalist party.
“Pakistan expresses grave concern over confirmation of BJP leadership’s direct involvement in anti-Muslim violence during the horrific Gujarat riots of 2002 that led to killing of over two thousand Muslims,” the foreign office said in its statement.
“The recent statement by the former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shankersinh Vaghela, has confirmed Pakistan’s longstanding assertion that the BJP-led government under the incumbent Prime Minister [Modi] — who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time of anti-Muslim riots in Godhra — was directly responsible for fomenting violence and massacre of Muslims.”
Vaghela, who is the leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly of Gujarat, issued the statement while responding to the BJP narrative ahead of the state elections at the beginning of the next month.
“The foundation of this [Indian] government rests on the 2002 carnage,” he was reported as saying. “Governments are made, but not on conspiracies.”
The foreign office called it “deplorable” that “crimes against humanity, targeting Muslims, were perpetrated solely for BJP’s political gains.”
It maintained India should constitute an independent commission of inquiry to bring people responsible for the Gujarat riots to justice.
It also asked the international community and human rights activists to take note of the “aggravating situation of Islamophobia in India” while calling on the Indian government to ensure that the rights of minorities were safeguarded.