Indian PM Modi is considered by some to be a divisive figure, promoting Hindutva rather aggressively.

A familiar accusation, often repeated by foreigners, is that, as Chief Minister of the state at the time, he "was involved in" / "did not stop" the 2002 Gujarat Riots in which 2000 people, mostly Muslims, died. This was considered a serious enough charge that many Western governments wanted to deny him visas in the aftermath.

On the other hand, his defenders will say that he was cleared of wrongdoing by the Supreme Court of India. And, yes, sometimes riots do result in considerable losses of life and property before they are stopped, without nefarious intent by the government. Yet, the wikipedia entry shows that was also some concern about the impartiality of the ruling.

What were the key facts supporting either his guilt or innocence? Maybe things like police deployment response times and orders, public speeches to call for an end to violence, etc...

p.s. It can be said that Modi doesn't have the most friendly attitude towards Muslims in India. Please don't base your answers primarily on that point, this question is about the 2002 riots, not Modi's tolerance or not since he is PM of India.

  • Is there are reason these riots are more salient more than two decades later?
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 25 at 18:27
  • Uh, because the dude is now PM of India, two decades later? I wouldn't have asked this Q if he'd retired or stayed put at the state level. Or if his current administration was entirely free of controversy about how it treats Muslims. Mar 25 at 20:26

2 Answers 2


This answer expresses the irresponsibility and even support for the riots by the state (consequently the guilt of Modi) :

Once troops were airlifted in on 1 March, Modi stated that the violence was no longer as intense as it had been and that it would soon be brought under control. The violence continued for 3 months with no intervention from the federal government until May. Local and state-level politicians were seen leading violent mobs, restraining the police and arranging the distribution of weapons...

Independent reports indicate that the state BJP president Rana Rajendrasinh had endorsed the strike, and that Modi and Rana used inflammatory language which worsened the situation.

Throughout the violence, attacks were made in full view of police stations and police officers who did not intervene. In many instances, police joined the mobs in perpetrating violence. At one Muslim locality, of the twenty-nine deaths, sixteen were caused by police firing into the locality. Some rioters even had printouts of voter registration lists, allowing them to selectively target Muslim properties.

Media coverage was generally critical of the Hindu right; however, the BJP portrayed the coverage as an assault on the honor of Gujaratis and turned the hostility into an emotive part of their electoral campaign. With the violence receding in April, a peace meeting was arranged at Sabarmati Ashram, a former home of Mahatma Gandhi. Hindutva supporters and police officers attacked almost a dozen journalists. The state government banned television news channels critical of the government's response, and local stations were blocked. Two reporters working for STAR News were assaulted several times while covering the violence. On a return trip from having interviewed Modi when their car was surrounded by a crowd, one of the crowd claimed that they would be killed should they be a member of a minority community.

(Emphasis mine. Source )

The latter (BJP) supremacy in election results and inflammatory campaigns in election rallies after this incident by Modi and politicians are clear evidence for this.

  • wikipidea is a brilliant source, especially for controversial events, isn't it?
    – whoisit
    Mar 9, 2023 at 9:16
  • 3
    Do you have anything to say and support for your claim that this is "controversial" except :(1) " He's not guilty because he passed supreme court of India". (2) "We must submit and respect supreme court" ? The SIT committe appointed by state government and their biased enquiry , hiding and threatening media coverage (just see his interviews on youtube regarding this issue) , using hatred themes for election rallies and campaigns are well documented. Mar 9, 2023 at 9:32
  • 2
    If you have other things which can prove his innocence and the fabrications of sources mentioned, please write an answer ! Mar 9, 2023 at 9:39
  • 1
    One thing I did gradually get to understand (I think) after researching this Q is the context of Modi getting cleared by the courts. "Supreme Court" gets bandied around but... originally it was the state Supreme Court that cleared Modi, while he was Chief Minister there. When India's Supreme Court declined to review, it was once Modi was PM. Mar 9, 2023 at 18:11
  • 1
    @sfxedit I was imprecise (and uninformed) when I used cleared. However, I am not sure how much an impartial court would typically investigate an individual politician if they have no reason to believe their guilt in the first place. So the fact it never went to trial doesn't tell us all that much. Which is not me saying that the court was correct in dismissing an investigation. Re. the lynched MP, same issue as with the most recent answer, very much an hard-to-check claim. While this answer, while lacking in sourcing, does refer to more publicly visible events. Mar 14, 2023 at 16:38

A senior police officer named Sanjiv Bhatt (51), who opposed Modi's handling of the Gujrat riots of 2002, when Modi was the state's chief minister, was fired after 27 years in 2015.

In the affidavit, he claimed he had attended a meeting at the then chief minister’s residence in February 2002, at which Modi allegedly told officers to “allow Hindus to vent their anger” against the minority community. Multiple courts have cleared Modi of any wrongdoing during the riots, in which more than 1,200 Muslims were killed in retaliation for an alleged arson attack on a train that killed 59 Hindus.

Bhatt’s claim was rejected by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the court to probe the riots. He was subsequently arrested briefly after accusations that he forced a junior officer to file a false affidavit in another riot-related case. The 51-year-old officer was also served a notice by the government after a sex tape that appeared to show him with an unknown woman surfaced.

  • 1
    It's not uncommon here to see people getting involved in alleged crimes out of sudden when they testify the crimes of state. Mar 13, 2023 at 10:43
  • I was aware of those allegations. However, while far from discounting them, I find they are hard to prove, as this is basically a "he said, she said" situation. That's why I indicated I'd prefer things more unambiguously on the public record. Mar 14, 2023 at 16:26

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