A BBC investigation has revealed for the first time that a secret UK government report found Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “directly responsible” for anti-Muslim massacres in Gujurat, India, in 2002.
India: The Modi Question aired on BBC2 last night and reported that the findings were part of an inquiry commissioned by then Foreign Minister Jack Straw who sent a team to Gujurat to investigate.
Around 2,000 people (the vast majority Muslims) were massacred in February/March 2002 after Hindus accused Muslims of burning a train, killing 60 Hindu pilgrims. The circumstances of the train tragedy are heavily disputed.
The UK official report found that there was “widespread and systematic rape of Muslim women,” that the violence was “politically motivated,” and the aim was to “purge Muslims from Hindu areas.”
A former senior British diplomat told the BBC: “At least 2,000 people were murdered during the violence, the vast majority were Muslim. We described it as a pogrom, a deliberate and politically-driven effort targeted at the Muslim community. The violence was widely reported to have been organised by an extremist Hindu nationalist group – the VHP – who have a relationship with the RSS (the extreme Hindu nationalist group of which Modi was a member).”
The UK report found that the VHP and its allies could not have inflicted so much damage without the “climate of impunity” created by the state government, and “Narendra Modi (who was Gujurat Chief Minister at the time) is “directly responsible.”
It added that reliable sources say Modi met senior police officers and ordered them not to intervene in the rioting, but police contacts denied the meeting happened.
Last year India’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling that cleared Modi of complicity in the 2002 Gujarat massacres.
Modi has always denied the accusation of doing little to stop the anti-Muslim riots.
The violence was initially investigated by the Gujarat Police and subsequently by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court in 2008.
In 2012, investigators submitted their report, saying no evidence was found against Modi in connection with the riots. Their report said there was “no prosecutable evidence” against officials.
You can watch India: The Modi Question here.