Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ in a press conference at the United Nations (UN). During a fiery speech, Bhutto said that Osama bin Laden had been killed, but the Butcher of Gujarat remained alive, who was the PM of India.
Bilawal Bhutto Hits the Nerve
The controversial statement raised anger among the members of Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Hundreds of extremists wearing saffron shawls gathered outside Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, calling for the Pakistani minister to apologize for his remarks. Some protestors broke through the barriers and marched towards the embassy chanting “Pakistan hay hay”, “Bilawal maafi maango”, etc. The police detained some BJP workers while water canons were also installed in the area if things got out of hand.
India vs Pakistan at the UN
Bilawal’s statement came in response to the Indian Minister of Foreign Affairs, S. Jaishankar. The Indian minister accused Pakistan of perpetuating terrorism and harbouring Osama bin Laden.
Bhutto, who was in New York for UN meetings, accused PM Modi of terrorism in return. He said Modi was banned from entering the US until he became the PM of India. He added Modi was previously a member and leader of RSS, which took inspiration from “Hitler’s SS”. Bhutto also claimed that Pakistan had “absolute evidence” of Indian involvement in the 2021 Lahore bombing. Furthermore, he mentioned that all terrorist activities in Pakistan were handled from overseas and urged to hold the culprits accountable.
Bhutto stressed the accomplishments of Pakistan in fighting terrorism, claiming that the country has taken concrete measures according to the National Action Plan (NAP). In the end, the FM reiterated that Pakistan lost more lives to terrorism than India while the BJP-led nation was busy bracketing Muslims with terrorism.
Gujarat Massacre 2002
Bhutto referred to the horrific incident in 2002 when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat. According to reports, more than 1000 people died in violence that erupted from anti-Muslim riots. A senior police officer gave a sworn statement in the court alleging that Modi allowed those riots deliberately.
The riots started after around 60 Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train set on fire. The officer said he attended a meeting before the riots where Modi allegedly said, “Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger”. He added that Modi told his officials that the “Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson” after the train attack.
The officer cited his high position as the reason why he had such vital intelligence. The Gujarat government responded that they had already testified and would wait for the court’s verdict. However, the prosecution efforts were hindered by high-level corruption. Local judges were biased, witnesses were bribed or intimidated, and the names of perpetrators were removed from the charge sheet.
Ultimately after 11 years, in 2013, India was able to secure 249 convictions, out of which 184 were Hindus and 65 were Muslims. 31 of those Muslims were convicted for killing Hindus on the train.
Communal violence between Hindus and Muslims is a regular occurrence under Modi’s watch. In 2020, peaceful anti-CAA protestors were attacked by BJP supporters and members of other extremist outfits, killing 13 people. The international community, journalists, and rights organizations condemned the incident, raising concerns for the life of Muslims in India.