'Grief', 'Sadness', 'Misery', 'Pain', 'Anguish', 'Agony' - mere words could not capture the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity. —Narendra Modi, Gujarat's top state elected official
NEW DELHI — A Hindu nationalist party's prime ministerial candidate on Friday rejected criticism that he did not do enough to prevent the killings of nearly 1,000 Muslims during riots in the western state of Gujarat in 2002.
Narendra Modi, the top state elected official, said in his blog that he was shaken to the core by the violence and his government had responded to the violence more swiftly and decisively than had been done in any previous Hindu-Muslim riots in India.
He is the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate for national elections to be held before May.
"'Grief', 'Sadness', 'Misery', 'Pain', 'Anguish', 'Agony' - mere words could not capture the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity," he wrote.
India's Information Minister Manish Tewari, a Congress party leader, said Modi had taken 11 years to get his emotions together "but still not a word of regret."
Political rivals and human rights groups have accused Modi of looking the other way while his state suffered from one of India's worst outbreaks of religious violence. They have been demanding an apology from Modi.
The riots occurred after a fire killed 60 passengers on a train packed with Hindu pilgrims. Hindu extremists blamed the deaths on Muslims, but the cause of the blaze remains unclear.