Naroda Gam riots: Kodnani was present at spot for around 10 mins, says SIT

A file photo of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Maya Kodnani. Photo: PTI

The SIT probing the Naroda Gam massacre case of 2002 Gujarat riots today told the special court here that the main accused and former state minister Mayaben Kodnani was present at the spot for around 10 minutes and left after "instigating the mob".

During today's hearing, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Gaurang Vyas told Special Judge M K Dave that concrete evidence in the form of eyewitness accounts establish Kodnani's presence at Naroda Gam at around 9:00 am on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident.

Questioning the defence witnesses who had claimed that Kodnani was either in the Gujarat Assembly in Gandhinagar, or at her hospital in Ahmedabad or at Sola civil hospital that day, Vyas said that such witnesses were "created only to save Kodnani".

In her defence, Kodnani had claimed before the court that she was in Gujarat Assembly in Gandhinagar during the early hours of February 28 and then arrived at Sola civil hospital, where bodies of 'karsevaks' were brought from Godhra.

Vyas maintained that Kodnani reached Naroda Gam at around 9:00 am after leaving from Gandhinagar at around 8:40 am.

The SPP said that the records of her mobile tower locations suggests that she reached Sola area at around 10:00 am.

Citing the testimonies of eye witnesses, Vyas said that people of that area saw Kodnani at Naroda Gam during the morning.

He said that the case against Kodnani is mainly about instigating the mob by giving a speech outside the Naroda Gam area.

"Eyewitnesses have said that she was there for around 10 minutes. She did not enter the area. She came, made a speech to instigate the mob and left. This case is mainly about inciting the mob," Vyas said.

The public prosecutor also questioned the testimony of a patient, a pregnant woman, who claimed to have received treatment at Kodnani's hospital on February 28 and had also said that Kodnani, a gynaecologist, was present at the hospital.

Vyas also raised a question mark on another defence witness, Dr Dhaval Shah, who claims to be running that hospital in partnership with Kodnani.

While the pregnant woman claimed that she was checked by Kodnani at around 1:00pm, Shah had testified that he had arrived at the hospital at around 2:00pm.

"Both the woman and Shah have failed to produce any case papers or copy of the bill. Shah claimed that he had dropped the patient to her relative's house in his vehicle. However, he doesn't know the address. Such witnesses were created just to save Kodnani," Vyas told the court.

He also questioned the testimonies of defence witnesses who had claimed that they saw Kodnani at Sola civil hospital.

"All these defence witnesses of Sola were either BJP leaders or relatives of the Godhra carnage victims. Officials or medical superintendent of the hospital were not examined by the defence. No independent witnesses were examined" said Vyas.

After taking submissions of the SIT lawyer, the court kept the matter for further hearing on Monday.

On Monday, the court will watch the CD of a sting operation carried out by former Tehelka journalist, Ashish Khetan, on the 2002 riots accused.

The court would also watch videos of the crime scene recorded by the local police in 2002 and by the SIT in 2008.

The Naroda Gam case is one of the nine major 2002 communal riot cases investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.

Eleven people belonging to the Muslim community were killed in the Naroda Gam riots during a bandh called in protest against the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.

Besides rioting and murder, Kodnani has also been charged with criminal conspiracy and attempt to murder in the case.

She was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail for her role in the Naroda Patiya riots, in which 96 people were killed. However, in April this year, the Gujarat High Court had acquitted her.

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