TRIVANDRUM, 3 March 2005 — India’s ex-president, K.R. Narayanan, has said deadly religious riots that swept western India in 2002 stemmed from a “conspiracy” between the former Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party led federal government and the Gujarat state government.
The remarks by Narayanan were contained in the most recent issue of the Manava Samskriti magazine published in the southern state of Kerala. Narayanan was president when riots erupted in February 2002 in Gujarat in which at least 2,000 Muslims were killed.
The violence came after 59 Hindus died when a fire raced through a train carriage in the Gujarat town of Godhra that state authorities blamed on a Muslim mob. Narayanan said in the interview “a lot of gruesome incidents” could have been avoided.
“It was a conspiracy between the state and central governments,” he said. He told the magazine that he asked for the army to be dispatched to suppress the rioting.
“The army was sent but there was no shooting against those who engineered the violence,” he said.
“If the army had been given powers to shoot the perpetrators of violence, the tragedy in Gujarat could have been avoided. But the state government did not do it, neither did the central government.”