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Geelani slams Muslims for Godhra carnage
By H Bula in New Delhi

Nobody expected Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, considered a hardliner in the executive body, to ever point a finger at Muslims. But he was the first Muslim leader to publicly condemn the Godhra incident a day after it took place. He accused local Muslims of being involved in the carnage.

Since a myth has been created that the firebrand leader is biased the statement came as a surprise in the Kashmir Valley too. The leader faced a lot of flak for having made such a statement. Condemning this criticism, he termed the incident ‘loathsome and inhuman’ as 60 ‘unarmed’ people had been killed.

He also said that it was the duty of everyone to severely condemn such gruesome killings. The intentions were clear since kar sevaks were travelling in the train, he said, adding that the manner in which they were attacked reflected a ‘superlative degree of inhuman attitude’. He also said that the upsurge following the Godhra incident was on expected lines.

The VHP leaders who accused Muslim leaders of not issuing statements condemning the incident, certainly overlooked Geelani’s words.

The first statement by the Jama’at-e-Islami leader was on 28 February in the Valley in Urdu, the second statement was released on 11 March in English outside the Valley in which the leader also asked the entire Muslim Ummah to come forward for the ‘sake of humanity’ and help the victims of the Gujarat violence ‘without any discrimination on any grounds’.

Geelani appealed to everyone to forget past differences and sectarian allegiances. He urged them to set aside their personal egos and work for the country to save it from the dangerous effects of growing communal hatred.

The Gujarat situation, he said, has created an atmosphere that has forced Muslims and other minority communities to ponder over the means to face the fascist mind set. He appealed to his community to be united and stand for the values of Islam. (The Statesman, 18 March 2002)

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