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Protests greet Modi in London

H S Rao in London | August 18, 2003 08:59 IST

About 200 people demonstrated against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, holding him responsible for the post-Godhra riots and demanding his arrest, as he addressed a gathering organised by the Friends of Gujarat at the Wembley Conference Centre in London on Sunday.

The protestors, representing the South Asia Solidarity, Awaaz and Indian Muslim Council, carried placards and held a noisy demonstration outside the centre.

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Raising a fresh controversy, the chief minister said Gujarat has a right over the waters of Sindhu river, which is currently being utilised be Pakistan.

He said he has a document dating back to 1932 to support his claim.

Modi, who came to the dais accompanied by the Indian High Commissioner to the UK Ronen Sen, said he has requested Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that as and when the two countries resume talks, he should "remember me (regarding the state's claim)".

During the hour-long speech punctuated by repeated applause from the gathering, Modi lambasted Pakistan for waging a "proxy war" against India and adopting "new terror tactics" particularly in Gujarat and Mumbai.

Expressing his determination to deal firmly with terrorists, Modi said, "I will not leave them alone. I am prepared to pay any price."

Terrorists had launched a bloody attack on the Akshardham temple in the state some time back.

The chief minister said terrorists have no religion. "The world is now clearly divided between those supporting terrorists and those against terrorism.  Terrorism is the enemy of humanity."

Modi, who is in Britain on a four-day visit to attract foreign investment in Gujarat, said the "covert operation" undertaken by Pakistan has been unmasked with the detection of "fake Indian currency notes and fake dollars" found in the Pakistani Embassy in Kathmandu some time back.

Modi, who received standing ovations when he entered the centre and concluded his speech, held out a vision of a vibrant Gujarat, which he said would achieve a growth rate of over 10 per cent this year as against the national average of 8.2 per cent and make rapid progress in implementing its 'Panchamrat Yojana' (five-point plan) -- Gyan (knowledge) Jal (water), Urja (power), Jana (population) and Raksha (security).

He said he would make Gujarat a centre of excellence in the field of education

He said despite the killer earthquake in 2001, the state has recouped within a short period.

The state has also built 900 km-long tunnel to bring Narmada waters to Kutch within 700 days, according to him.

Modi said he is on his way to Geneva to bring the mortal remains of veteran freedom fighter Shyam Krishna Verma, who willed that his ashes should be taken to India for the last rites after the country achieved independence.  He died in Geneva in 1930.

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