2002 Gujarat riots are one of the most painful chapters of independent India’s history. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who comes from the same state of Gujarat, has finally broken his silence over the issue and put to rest several myths circulating about those riots in an interview with Smita Prakash from ANI.
Amit Shah raised questions about the silence from Congress over the death of 59 “Ram Bhakts” who were burned alive at the Godhra railway station, that initiated the 2002 riots. Further, Amit Shah put to rest an oft-repeated lie that the dead bodies from Godhra were paraded in Gujarat to stir emotions and engineer the riots.
Amit Shah clarified that the burnt dead bodies from Godhra were taken to Sola Hospital in closed ambulances, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, and were not paraded at all in front of anyone. While Amit Shah maintained that the massacre of Ram Bhakts returning from Ayodhya was the main reason for the state-wide riots, he categorically stated that none of the dead bodies was paraded to stir emotions.
The Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad, which would have been an obvious choice to bring home the deceased, was skipped. The Civil Hospital is situated in Asarwa, Ahmedabad which is a communally sensitive area. Years later, in 2008, the civil hospital in Ahmedabad was the target of a terror attack that claimed the lives of 56 people and left over 240 injured
Further, Shah said that a 16-days-old was burnt in her mother’s lap. Shah himself eventually cremated many of those who were burnt alive in Godhra. Amit Shah mentioned how people were angry after coming across this visual of nearly 5 dozen Ram Bhakts burnt alive, however, Amit Shah dismissed the allegations that the dead bodies were paraded around Gujarat to instigate anger.
It is notable that Amit Shah was not the Home Minister at the time of the Gujarat riots and the home ministry was with Gordhan Zadaphia. In the aftermath of the riots, Amit Shah was elevated to the post of the Home Minister of Gujarat.
Following the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Zakia Jafri’s petition against the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Amit Shah said, “The entire conspiracy was staged to tarnish the reputation of Narendra Modi but in the end, truth triumphed. It is wrong to use such communal riots for politics but still, allegations were leveled against Narendra Modi. People used to write op-eds against Narendra Modi before every foreign visit. However, now even Supreme Court has agreed that Zakia Jafri was acting at someone else’s behest.”
Apart from the Gujarat riots, Amit Shah addressed several issues during his interview with ANI including GST, surgical strikes, farmers’ protest, and Pakistan. Shah said that his party has fought many battles like GST and surgical strikes and their success on these fronts is a success for every party member, not just Narendra Modi.