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Muslim anger as Indian court clears Modi

PM candidate played no part in 2002 riots, court rules

<p>Narendra Modi, cleared for the second time of involvement in anti-Muslim riots. Picture: AFP Photo/Punit Paranjpe</p>

Narendra Modi, cleared for the second time of involvement in anti-Muslim riots. Picture: AFP Photo/Punit Paranjpe

  • ucanews.com reporter, Ahmedabad
  • India
  • December 27, 2013
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A court in Gujarat, western India, has cleared controversial Hindu leader and prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi of responsibility for the deadly Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002.

The court yesterday rejected an appeal from Zakia Jafri who challenged an earlier verdict of not guilty, awarded to Modi and 59 others who were alleged to have played a key role in fomenting the riots.

Jafri’s husband, who was a former parliamentarian at that time, was dragged out, hacked and burnt to death along with 68 others in a cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings housing mostly Muslims in Ahmedabad, the Gujarat state capital.

Modi, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP's) prime ministerial candidate for next year’s general elections, was the chief minister of the state at the time of the riots. His is currently serving his third consecutive term.

“We are disappointed by the judgment. We had top lawyers to defend the case and there was enough evidence to prosecute Modi,” Father Cedric Prakash told ucanews.com.

The Jesuit priest, who is a member of co-complainant Citizens for Justice and Peace, said the case had been influenced by Modi’s allies.

He added that “the clean chit is false and we are definitely going to appeal against the judgment in the coming days.”

Human rights activist Fr Xavier Manjooran said that justice was unlikely in a Gujurat court given that Modi is head of the state.

Muslim human rights activist Zubai Gopalani echoed the sentiment, and alleged that the lower courts in the state has been biased in anti-Muslim riot cases. “There is hope for justice for Muslims from the apex court only,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the BJP has said that the judgment would be a morale booster for Modi in the general elections.

Arun Jaitley, senior BJP leader, said the allegations of Modi's involvement in riots were "politically motivated" as rival party Congress and its "friend NGOs" knew that they could not take on the Gujarat chief minister politically.

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