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Gujarat Chief Minister Endorses Unlawful Killings

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Government Should Investigate Narendra Modi for Seeming Incitement to Violence

Press realease : Human Rights Watch

The Indian government should immediately order an investigation of Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, for statements apparently endorsing the extrajudicial execution of a terrorism suspect by the police, Human Rights Watch said today.

Gujarat’s antiterrorism squad in November 2005 gunned down Sohrabuddin Sheikh, whom police claimed was a militant conspiring to kill Modi. The Gujarat government has since admitted that there is no evidence Sheikh was a terrorist and that he had been executed in a fake “encounter,” one in which police falsely claimed that he had been killed in an exchange of fire. In July, the government filed charges against several police officials. In a speech on December 5, however, Modi suggested that people like Sheikh deserved to be killed.

"Modi’s remarks send a green light to the police that executing terrorism suspects is fine with his administration," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The government in Delhi should immediately investigate this seeming incitement to violence."

At a rally in his campaign for re-election as chief minister, Modi said that Sheikh "got what he deserved.“Modi asked the crowd,”What should have been done to a man from whom a large number of AK-47 rifles were recovered, who was on the search list of police from four states, who attacked the police, who had relations with Pakistan and was eyeing to enter Gujarat?“The crowd replied”mari nakho-mari nakho" (kill him, kill him), to which Modi said, "Does my government need to take permission of Soniaben [Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi] for this? Maut na Saudagar [merchants of deaths] will be dealt in the same fashion on the land of Gujarat."

After widespread criticism of his remarks, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician explained that he had been provoked and was responding to the allegation by Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi that his government was a "merchant of death.“”Modi cannot hide behind accusations of provocation to justify remarks endorsing a murder,“said Adams.”He used similar excuses after the police participated in a killing spree of Muslims in 2002, but his pretexts were as hollow then as they are today." Read more

date of on-line publication : 11 December 2007

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