To keep the peace, I misled people on ’93 blasts: Pawar

For the first time, Sharad Pawar has admitted, on record, that he had "deliberately misled" people following the 1993 Mumbai blasts by saying there were 12 and not 11 explosions, adding the name of a Muslim-dominated locality to show that people from both communities had been affected.

Spilling the beans on what became an ill-concealed secret in later days, but had never been said openly, Pawar said he had to quickly find a way to stop Mumbai from going up in flames and this was the ploy he hoped would keep Hindus from retaliating.

The step was pre-meditated as only shortly before making the announcement about the 12th blast that never was, he had been informed of 11 coordinated blasts in the city in March 1993, all hitting Hindu majority areas.

Speaking to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV's Walk the Talk, which will be broadcast tomorrow at 7.30 pm, Pawar, who was Maharashtra Chief Minister at the time said he had anticipated clashes between Hindus and Muslims and he had to prevent that from happening.

"I went on TV and deliberately misled people. Instead of 11 explosions I told 12 and one of those areas was Masjid Bunder, dominated by minorities," Pawar said.

And then at the Air India office, where the first explosion had occurred, Pawar came up with another "deliberate fudge" to prevent riots.

He had said then that from some of the material used in the blasts, it appeared that terrorist groups south of India were behind them—hinting at the LTTE.

The NCP president, who is Agriculture Minister in the UPA government, conceded that questions were indeed raised in the party on this step. He was in the Congress then and had been sent to Mumbai by P V Narasimha Rao to put the city back in order in the wake of the riots that had led to a sharp polarisation between Hindus and Muslims after the Babri Masjid demolition.

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