Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) on Sunday expressed “grave concern” on comments from Indian Home Minister Amit Shah on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) “direct involvement” in anti-Muslim violence 2002 Gujarat riots.
In a statement on Friday, Shah said that as chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taught a lesson to “anti-social elements”.
“They tried to create a problem for Narendra Bhai [Modi], but he taught them such a lesson that they have not dared to do anything till 2022,” Shah had said, while addressing an election rally in Mahudha town of Kheda district. “The BJP government has established peace in Gujarat.”
Reacting to his statement, the FO said Shah’s remarks as well as those of former Gujarat chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela corroborated and confirmed “Pakistan’s long-standing assertion that the BJP-led government under the incumbent prime minister … was directly responsible for fomenting violence and massacre of Muslims.”
“It is most deplorable that the crimes against humanity, targeting Muslims, were perpetrated solely for BJP’s political gains.
“Regrettably, the BJP once again seeks to cash in on its divisive policies two decades after the Gujarat tragedy,” the press release reads.
The FO mentioned that the current Indian government’s treatment of minorities, particularly Muslims, was “discriminatory, degrading and full of hate and violence”.
It further noted that the Indian Supreme Court “handed a clean chit” to Modi this year for his role in the Gujarat riots and shut down as many as 11 petitions, including one filed by the National Human Rights Commission of India, seeking an independent probe into the riots.
“It is an undeniable fact that India’s incumbent prime minister had been banned from entering countries such as the United States till 2014, because of his abysmal human rights record as chief minister of the Gujarat state.
“Sadly, the entire Indian legal and administrative machinery is blindly pursuing the Hindutva-driven agenda of the ruling BJP-RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) nexus, where perpetrators of hate and violence are protected by law and enjoy the exalted status, whereas religious minorities are constantly threatened and denied the freedom to practice their faith without fear, while their lives, property, and places of worship remain under threat of violation,” the FO remarked.
It added that India must immediately constitute an independent inquiry commission to bring the culprits of the Godhra and Gujarat riots to justice.
The FO also called on the Indian government to ensure that minority rights in the country were safeguarded and their lives protected.
“Pakistan also calls upon the international community, particularly human rights activists and defenders, to take serious note of the aggravating situation of Islamophobia in India,” the FO added.