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The Rediff Interview/Gujarat Minister of State for Home Amit Shah
'Gujarat has been saved'
June 17, 2004
Even as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's political credibility is being questioned by none other than former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the state police on June 15 gunned down four alleged Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists in Ahmedabad, who are believed to have plotted Modi's murder.
Modi, meanwhile, is busy promoting education amongst girls in south Gujarat. While in Surat to participate in one such high-profile rally to attract girls to primary schools, Modi's confidant Amit Shah, Gujarat's minister of state for home, answered a few questions in a telephone conversation with rediff.com:
Tuesday's police encounter has given rise to some doubts.
In all encounters anywhere in India, the media raise doubts. It is not a new phenomenon.
Considering that Modi's political future is under attack, the timing of the encounter does give rise to suspicion.
It is just because of political instability that you are being doubtful. It does not mean the people who have died were not criminals.
When the police guns down alleged criminals, it will obviously be questioned because the action normally lacks credibility.
Those who question the police's claim should know that so-called encounters cannot be completely fabricated. There are always 20 to 25 people involved. How many encounters have you witnessed where criminals have not died?
But they are not criminals, they are simply the accused.
I don't want to debate law. A lot can be debated about criminal justice and its delivery system.
Can you give some convincing answers?
Do you want to imply that the Gujarat police got a car registered in Maharashtra and also transported four guys from Mumbai and killed them in Ahmedabad? Is it really possible?
But what is the proof that the people who reportedly came to assassinate Modi were linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar?
We have found identity cards on their body. It shows their allegiance to Lashkar. Two of them were from Pakistan. We have the addresses and correct names.
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Fake identity cards are not difficult to create.
We have got sophisticated weapons. Also, we have recovered satellite phones. They are not like normal cell phones. Their registration is much stricter. We will be able to prove that they were Pakistanis. You may not believe it, but it is not possible to get four persons from Maharashtra and kill them in a fake encounter. Also, you must know that we had a very credible lead that they had arrived from Pakistan.
Lead from where?
I cannot share everything. My officers are capable and they will prove it in court.
But the timing of the encounter creates suspicion. Modi is under pressure. Such news will help him get the people's sympathy.
Let me tell you one thing. [The discussion] on whether Modi should go is not based on his popularity. His popularity is unquestioned. And please note again: that's not the criterion my party [is looking at].
So the gunning down of four people is simply an achievement of your police?
Yes. The criminals came to Gujarat to kill Mr Modi and create disturbances on June 19 during the prestigious Jagannath rathyatra. Gujarat has been saved. But if you look with a biased mind, you may find our achievement a small one.