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BJP MLA has some riot-accused as special guests at his function


By Milind Ghatwai

Vadodara, Indian Express:

Several persons accused in cases of riot and arson in several villages on the outskirts of Vadodara were felicitated at a function organised in Bajwa on Sunday by Dilubha Chudasama, BJP legislator from the Vadodara (Rural) constituency.

When contacted by The Indian Express, the MLA said that this was a ‘‘party workers’ convention,’’ which he holds every year.

He admitted to felicitating the accused but added that the ‘‘function wasn’t meant only for them.’’

‘‘Since they happened to be BJP activists they attended the convention,’’ he said, adding, ‘‘such programmes have been organised elsewhere too.’’

He said: ‘‘The idea behind calling them on the stage was to soothen tempers frayed by the Godhra incident and help restore peace. All we want is peace in Gujarat.’’

When asked how a public felicitation of riot-accused help restore peace, he said: ‘‘Those who figure in police complaints are angry and want to find out who named them. We don’t want further disturbances and appealed to the party activists to stop further disturbances.’’

Sources said persons accused of involvement in rioting from each village were called on to the stage separately for identification. Thy were draped in party sashes.

An estimated 1,500 residents of Bajwa, Dashrath, Ranoli, Padamla, Chhani, Sokhada, Nandesari and Karchia, among other villages, attended the late night sammelan.

Madhubhai Shrivastava, BJP MLA from nearby Waghodia, said he had heard about the Bajwa convention and was against felicitating someone who had attacked innocent persons.

‘‘The felicitation would have been justified if they had attacked Godhra and killed those involved in the train massacre,’’ he said. ‘‘What great work have they done, they have taken the country and Gujarat back by many years. Looting does not amount to deshbhakti.’’

The Chhani, Jawaharnagar and Vadodara Rural police stations under whose jurisdiction the accused persons live denied knowledge of the felicitation but said it was a party function they had no control over.

BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana, contacted in Delhi, said he was not aware of any such programme. ‘‘In any case, Dilubha Chudasama couldn’t have organised such a programme,’’ he said. Police Commissioner D D Tuteja said he had no information about Chudasama’s programme.

This isn’t the only example of the riot-accused being feted. In Makarpura area of Vadodara, where two refugees were lynched when they went to collect their belongings, a relief camp was started to feed the accused families.

The police rounded up about 110 persons for their alleged involvement in the lynching leaving it to a former BJP councillor to start a relief camp. It didn’t occur to anyone that relief camps are supposed to cater to the riot-hit, not the accused or their families.

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