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India rejects both.............
by Saima Alvi
30 April 2002 10:26 UTC
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25 April 2002  Thursday  

India rejects both EU's criticism of its handling of anti-Muslim pogroms & 
demands for internal, neutral probe

By Jawed Naqvi 

NEW DELHI, April 24: Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani ruled out on 
Wednesday a neutral probe by a serving Supreme Court judge into the Gujarat 
carnage even as the Indian government grappled with a growing chorus of 
anxious voices of foreign governments and the European Union that have 
slammed in one way or another New Delhi's tardy handling of the anti-Muslim 
pogroms in the border state. 

The Ministry of External Affairs, apparently seeking to blame the boots for 
the faults of the feet, said: "We note with regret that some foreign 
missions in India continue to interfere in the already vigorous democratic 
debate going on in our country, at all levels of Indian society, on the 
situation in Gujarat by deliberately leaking their internal reports or 
making substantive political comments on the subject." 

The ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao said: "Our parliament, the political 
parties, the courts, the National Human Rights Commission, the Minorities 
Commission, the media, the intellectuals and the NGOs are all seized with 
or debating openly and freely in minute detail the developments in Gujarat. 
This reflects the strength of our democracy and attachment to certain 
principles of governance enshrined in our Constitution." 

Rao accused some foreign countries and missions in Delhi of injecting 
themselves into the highly politically charged internal debate in the 
country, saying that they were "creating an impression of playing a 
partisan role." But the foreign governments were not evidently impressed by 
the disapproving tone. 

The Times of India said on Wednesday: "Rejecting the Indian government's 
position that the Gujarat violence is an 'internal affair' of the country, 
the European Union intends to undertake a demarche to the government to 
express concern over the incidents in the state." 

The assessment that the violence is not an internal affair was arrived at 
after numerous fact-finding visits by EU member countries to Gujarat and 
the perusal of material that indicated the response of the state had been 
violative of international law, EU sources told the Times. 

A news report on the EU observation on Gujarat had led to a furore with the 
government's statement on Monday, saying "India does not appreciate 
interference in its internal affairs." 

Rejecting this contention, EU diplomats affirmed their right to comment and 
said the events in Gujarat constituted a threat to international order. 

Rao's reaction to the report was sharp. She said: "This is contradictory to 
well-established norms of diplomacy and injurious to the friendly relations 
that exist between India and the EU as well as individual European 
countries identified in the press as sources of leaks and political 

Asked if New Delhi was intending to take any steps against the concerned 
countries, Rao said: "We are a civilized country. I don't know what kind of 
measures you are referring to and I think this is an occasion for the 
governments of the countries concerned to take stock and to pay careful 
heed to what the Government of India is saying on this issue and our 
statement here refers to the fact that there is a perfectly open, clear 
democratic debate going on in this country and there is no need, no warrant 
at all for external interference." 

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