New Delhi: Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju is once again at the Centre of a storm after he questioned Narendra Modi over the plight of Muslims in Gujarat.
Expressing his views in Pakistan daily, The Express Tribune, Katju raised questions over the killings of over 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning incident.
The former Supreme Court judge claimed that Muslims in Gujarat fear that if they speak out against what happened in 2002, they may be attacked and victimized by the ruling BJP government.
He also opined that while Modi is being projected as an honest mass leader and the most powerful contender for the Prime Minister’s post, he is disliked by Indian Muslims.
Katju further wrote that those in the minority, who support him, do so as they fear for their lives.
“The truth is that Muslims in Gujarat fear that if they speak out against the horrors of 2002, they may be attacked andvictimised. In the whole of India Muslims (who are over 200 million of the people of India) are solidly against Modi (though there are a handful of Muslims who for some reason disagree),” Katju said.
He also refuted arguments by BJP workers and Modi supporters that Gujarat riots were a ‘spontaneous’ reaction of the majority community members to the killings of 59 people in Godhra.
The PCI chief also demanded a thorough probe to unravel the truth.
While agreeing that those responsible for the Godhra incident must be identified and punished, he said that nothing can justify the killing of thousands of innocent Muslims in Gujarat.
“Muslims are only nine percent of the total population of Gujarat, the rest being mostly Hindus. In 2002, Muslims were massacred, their homes burnt and other horrible crimes committed against them,” he wrote.
Comparing the Gujarat riots with the killing of Jews in Kristallnacht in Germany in November 1938, Katju said that he believed that it was planned and executed by the authorities using fanatic mobs.
Katju held Modi responsible for the killings of Muslims in 2002 since he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at that time, he claimed.
The PCI chief had earlier rejected Modi’s claim of development in Gujarat as “phoney" and said its malnutrition rate was worse than Somalia.
“Modi has claimed that he has developed Gujarat. It is, therefore, necessary to consider the meaning of ‘development’. Development can have only one meaning, and that is, raising the standard of living of the masses. Giving concessions to big industrial houses and offering them cheap land and electricity can hardly be called development if it does not raise the standard of living of the masses,” he wrote.
Asked what he thought of Modi`s third successive win in Assembly Elections, he said that everyone knows how polls are fought and won these days in the country.
Reacting to Katju’s latest attack on Modi, the BJP said that if Katju wants to do politics then he should step into active politics. The party had earlier termed him as a Congress agent and someone who was misusing his position.