Narendra Modi tells European Union envoys, 'Gujarat riots were unfortunate'

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi told European Union envoys that the 2002 Gujarat riots were unfortunate after they ended over a decade-old boycott .

Modi took the unusual step of driving to Germany embassy here to a luncheon meeting with envoys and representatives of several European Union member countries that was hosted by German Ambassador Michael Steiner. The meeting remained undisclosed for one month till EU Ambassador Joao Cravinho went public yesterday.

Steiner told reporters today that he had always maintained that Germany had no intention of interfering in Gujarat Assembly elections and that it will take a "fresh look" after the election results.

"That is exactly what we were doing and part of it is to talk directly to Chief Minister Modi. India is a democracy. We respect democratic institutions. We respect election results in India and we have full trust in its judicial system.

Because of this respect and trust, we are now in a new phase," the German Ambassador said.

However, he refused to give further details of the meeting but other sources in the know said, during the January 7 meeting with EU delegation, Modi said he will abide by the judicial verdict and that these events were unfortunate.

Modi is also understood to have said that everything should be done to avoid such events.

Asked if the EU, which has boycotted Modi for over 10 years after the riots, was softening up, Cravinho said, "The accountability of what happened in 2002, I think is the matter that is of interest to Indians and is of interest for people around the world."

He said that in India, there is a certain amount of emotion attached to what happened in 2002.

"And it is a matter that we will follow with great interest...," he said.

Referring to last year's verdict by a Gujarat court convicting BJP legislator Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi along with 30 others for their role in the Naroda Patia riots, the Ambassador said, Indian justice might be slow but delivers.

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