Those responsible for the communal riots in Gujarat were “taught such a lesson” that the state has been peaceful for 22 years, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Thursday, at a rally ahead of next week’s elections.
“During the Congress rule in Gujarat (before 1995), communal riots were rampant. Congress used to incite people of different communities and castes to fight against each other. Through such riots, Congress had strengthened its vote bank and did injustice to a large section of the society,” Mr Shah said in Mahudha town of Kheda district.
“There have been many riots in Bharuch, curfew, violence. There was no room for development in Gujarat because of the chaos. In 2002, they tried to indulge in communal violence… we taught them such a lesson, we put them in jail. It’s been 22 years, we have not put a curfew even once. BJP has done the work to bring the peace to a land that saw frequent communal riots,” he said.
Over 1,000 people were killed in the three-day violence in Gujarat in 2002 and the state police faced grave charges of not doing enough to stop the riots that began after a train coach carrying pilgrims was burnt in Godhra, killing 59 people.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been cleared of any wrongdoing by investigations into the Gujarat riots. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against his exoneration in one of the cases linked to the killings.
Amit Shah is one of the BJP’s top campaigners for the elections in the state, set to be held on December 1 and 5. Results are expected on December 8.
The BJP has pulled out all stops to maintain its hold on PM Modi’s home state, which it has ruled since 1998, as it faces a stiff challenge from Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress.