By Ashis Ray / The Wire

London: While objecting to the leaking of an investigative report into the 2002 Gujarat riots by British diplomats, the BJP-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not contest its main findings that the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 was “pre-planned”, that Sangh parivar outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had played a key role in the targeting of Muslims and that the police had been specifically instructed not to act against the killers.

This is indicated in the minutes of an official phone conversation on the matter between Jaswant Singh, then India’s external affairs minister, and his United Kingdom counterpart, Jack Straw.

The Gujarat government was headed by Narendra Modi at the time and the full British report concluded that he was “directly responsible” for the “pre-planned” 2002 Gujarat riots.

The British diplomats who prepared the 2002 report also said that “the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and its allies acted with the support of the state government. They could not have inflicted so much damage without the climate of impunity created by the state government.”

The Singh-Straw telephone conversation took place on April 16, 2002 – one day after the Hindustan Times published a story about the leaked diplomatic report.

The hitherto classified, publicly unseen British foreign office record of the conversation was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request in Britain (which corresponds to securing information via India’s RTI Act). Sections of the document were redacted by the foreign office before release but the Gujarat-related paragraphs are there in full.

It is not clear if Jaswant Singh had read the full British report – which directly held Modi culpable – before he had his conversation with Straw or was merely relying on the limited but damning details published in the Hindustan Times.

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