Sohrabuddin remark: Modi accuses Sonia of provoking him

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Ahmedabad, Dec 6 (UNI) Apparently rattled by the Election Commission's cognisance of his remarks on the Sohrabuddin fake encounter, Chief Minister Narendra Modi today did not raise the issue during public meetings across the state and accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi of ''provoking him'' in the run-up to the assembly elections.

The EC today slapped a showcause notice on Mr Modi for his reported statement during an election rally, justifying the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter.

Mr Modi told TV channels on the sidelines of public meetings in Gujarat that he had been raising development and other relevant issues in election rallies to maintain a high level of political debate but during her ''first rally, Sonia Gandhi called me a merchant of death''.

''I had to react because in a democracy it is my duty to take the truth to the people of the country.'' The Chief Minister, who was maintaining a silence on the Sohrabuddin case since it broke out, said he had never reacted despite allegations levelled against him by the Congress.

''I fail to understand why anti-social activities and terrorism are linked to the minorities. People should talk about a terrorist and his act, not about his clan or religion,'' he said.

Even during his public meetings today in north and central Gujarat, he did not utter a word on the encounter and seemed to be downplaying the issue.

Mr Modi justified the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a police encounter during election rallies during the past two days in response to Ms Gandhi's remark that he was a ''merchant of death''. He repeated the statement at various places in Saurashtra and South Gujarat.

Several political parties, including the Congress, have protested against the remarks made by Mr Modi and the EC has sought a report from the Surat collector including the video tapes of the speech.

The Gujarat government's lawyer in the Supreme Court, K T S Tulsi, in the Sohrabuddin case, has also publicly announced that he will not appear in the case till Mr Modi provided an explanation for his remarks.

UNI

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