In a comment that can hamper Narendra Modi's image building campaign, US Consul General Michael S. Owen, in a
leaked US cable said that the Gujarat
Chief Minister was clearly unapologetic about the Gujarat riots when
the two met in 2006 in Gandhinagar.
“Modi is clearly not going to
apologize or back down on the violence of 2002, but we think it is
vital for him to hear that we are not going to let the passage of
time erase the memory of these events", a leaked US cable quoted
Michael Owen, the US Consul General in Mumbai as saying.
According to the leaked cables that
were published in the media today, Michael Owen made these comments after
meeting Narendra Modi in Gandhinagar on November 16, 2006.
Michael Owen in the US cable sent
after the meeting also observed that Narendra Modi was evasive,
visibly annoyed and even termed the National Human Rights Commission
"Indian National Human Rights
Commission was biased and its reports wildly inaccurate", Owen
quoted Modi as saying when he pointed out that the commission's report
cited ‘a comprehensive failure on the part of the state
Government' to prevent the violence of 2002'.
Blaming United States of indulging in Human Rights violations
itself, Modi said, “The events of 2002 were an internal Gujarati
matter and the U.S. had no right to interfere. The U.S. is itself
guilty of horrific human rights violations (he specified Abu Ghraib,
Guantanamo, and attacks on Sikhs in the U.S. after September 11) and
thus has no moral basis to speak on such matters, and; Muslims are
demonstrably better off in Gujarat than in any other state in India,
so what is everybody griping about?”
"The U.S. relied far too much on ‘a
few fringe NGOs' that don't know the real picture and have an axe to
grind", Owen quoted Modi as saying.
"The 2002 violence had involved a ‘few
miscreants' and had been blown out of proportion by ‘fringe
elements'", Owen quoted Modi as saying.
"In any event, if officials are guilty
of wrongdoing, then it is up to the courts to prosecute and punish
them, and the Chief Minister could not interfere with the judicial
process", Modi said during the meeting, according to Owen.
When the Consul General reacted that
it had been well over four years since the violence occurred and
nobody had been sanctioned; this gave little confidence that anyone
would ultimately be held accountable then Modi noted, "The culprits
in the 1993 Mumbai bombings are only now being sentenced, so we
should not have ‘unrealistic expectations'.”
When the diplomat asked if there was
in fact an active investigation of the Gujarat violence still under
way, Owen observed in the leaked US cable, “Modi was evasive and backtracked to his claim that Muslims in
Gujarat are better off than in any other state in India."