Muslims in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, on Saturday said the ‘harmony’ fast being observed by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is a political stunt.
Modi began the fast earlier in the day to soften his image hurt by communal riots that claimed hundreds of victims, most of whom were Muslims, nearly a decade ago.
However, a Muslims cleric in Lucknow said Muslim community would not forgive him for riots that occurred in Gujarat in 2002.
"We believe that this is Modi’s another political stunt. We think that after thousands of Indians were massacred in Gujarat in 2002, India was defamed in the world due to the Gujarat riots, there was human rights violation on a large scale and the victims have not been given justice till date, this fast is merely a show off and political stunt," said Kalbe Sadiq, a Muslim cleric.
"The fast is an attempt to wash away the blot on Narendra Modi and his team as the Gujarat riots had tarnished their image. Though he is trying to send across the message to the public that he is in favour of unity and communal harmony, but we do not believe that he will be able convince the public through his fast," he added.
"Narendra Modi wants to develop his image as a national leader, since he is only identified as a leader in Gujarat. He has worked towards the development of the state, but only the locals can tell whether the development has actually taken place or not. But development cannot wipe out his misdeeds," said Mohammed Javed, a Muslim scholar.
Modi cut bureaucracy to help turn Gujarat into a motor of India’s growth. But his reputation as a hardliner who let rioters rampage remains.
Witnesses at the time said state police were absent during the worst of the violence, fuelling suspicion that Modi condoned the attacks on Muslims in retaliation for the deaths of a dozen Hindu pilgrims in a train fire.
The riots took place after a train carrying Hindu devotees was set on fire at the Godhra Railway Station, setting off one of the country’s worst communal riots since independence in 1947.
More than 2,500 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the subsequent riots in Gujarat.
Critics said Modi and his party, the BJP, which rules Gujarat, did little to stop the violent aftermath of Godhra incident.