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Jan 20, 2012 at 05:13pm IST

Narendra Modi fasts in Godhra, six activists arrested

Godhra: As Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi began his day-long fast in Godhra on Friday, activist Shabnam Hashmi and five others were arrested on the outskirts of the city as they had planned to hold a parallel 'sammelan' to his fast.

"They have stopped and arrested us. We just want to go ahead with our convention. I don't understand what are they afraid of? What are we saying?" asked Shabnam.

The Gujarat Chief Minister's fast at Godhra is part of his 'Sadbhavana' mission and it is his 23rd fast. The fast venue, Godhra, was the nerve centre of the 2002 riots. Modi hopes to spread the message of harmony.

The 'harmony mission' comes nearly a month before the 10th anniversary of Godhra carnage where 59 people, mostly karsevaks, were killed when a coach of the Sabarmati Express train was burnt on February 27, 2002.

Local BJP leaders expect a crowd of over 50,000 to attend the event. However, Congress members in the state and some NGOs are protesting against Modi's fast.

The Congress has slammed it as an eyewash and its leader and former chief minister Shankarsingh Vaghela will counter Modi's fast with one of his own.

Security has been tightened across Godhra.

"Over 1,600 policemen have been deployed along with 50 specially trained Chetak commandos and other unarmed jawans across the town," Panchmahal SP Sachin Bhadshah said.

"Security has been tightened in every part of the town. Also, a three-layer security has been put in place at the fast venue," he said, adding that CCTV cameras have been installed at the ground and sensitive locations.

Panchmahal district BJP president Jayprakash Patel said over 10,000 people have registered themselves to fast along with the chief minister. An equal number have been shortlisted to greet him on stage. "We expect over 50,000 people to attend the Sadbhavana fast," Patel said.

He said there was no tension in the town following the event and such talks were just "rumours". "Many programmes of the chief minister have taken place in Godhra after 2002 and nothing has happened. All talks about tension are hyped."

Patel denied reports that a special enclosure has been built for the people of minority community to offer Friday namaz.

With additional information from PTI

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