Saturday, February 21, 2009

Modi Govt says minister led mob that killed 95

Sat, 21 Feb 2009 
Modi Govt says minister led mob that killed 95
Nagendar Sharma and Stavan Desai, Hindustan Times
Email Author
Ahmedabad, February 21, 2009
First Published: 01:58 IST(21/2/2009)
Last Updated: 12:23 IST(21/2/2009)
Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani led a mob that killed at least 95 Muslims in Ahmedabad during the riots of 2002, said an affidavit given by the state's government to the high court on Thursday. "She was a leader of the mob and at the relevant point of time she was an MLA who instigated the mob to commit the crime and therefore was in the main role," said the affidavit.
When contacted for comments, Kodnani's lawyer, Mitesh Ameen, said: "There is no substance in these allegations and we will reveal our strategy only in court."
The affidavit is based on findings of the special investigation team constituted on instructions of the Supreme Court. And a copy of the affidavit is in possession of  the Hindustan Times.

The state government has charged Kodnani with leading a mob of 15,000 to 17,000 rioters in the Muslim-dominated Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam areas of Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002.

The Modi government had till now claimed the riots followed the burning of Sabarmati Express at Godhra in which 59 Hindus were killed, and that the state had no role in it.
Kodnani, a 53-year-old gynaecologist, may not have been a part of the state apparatus then, she has been one for a while now as minister of state for women and child development.

When contacted for comments, Kodnani's lawyer, Mitesh Ameen, said: "There is no substance in these allegations and we will reveal our strategy only in court." Kodnani continues to attend to her official duties and was in assembly on Thursday.

Here's what the affidavit said about her role in the riots:
"During the investigation of the offence, it has been revealed that she had fired from her pistol and it has been further revealed that she came in her car and had distributed swords to the mob."

Dilavar Saiyad, a resident of Naroda Patiya, told the SIT about rioting on February 28, 2002. "I saw Maya Kodnani, MLA from Naroda constituency parking her Maruti car. I saw Maya Kodnani opening the door of the car and taking out hockey sticks and other weapons and handing over the same to three persons. I saw Bipin Panchal (one of the arrested accused in the case) carrying a sword given to him by Maya Kodnani. Immediately thereafter a huge mob of more than a thousand persons came near her car and Maya Kodnani took leadership of the mob."

Saiyad and two others — Nanumiyan Malek and Imtiaz Qureshi — have told the high court (HT has copies of their applications) that they are witnesses in the two cases, in which both the leaders (Kodnani and VHP leader Jaideep Patel) are facing arrest, and that the SIT has recorded their statements. And therefore they "would like to make detailed submissions opposing the release" of the accused leaders on bail.

The affidavit is also pitching for the cancellation of anticipatory bail given to Kodnani. "The sessions judge ought to have considered the fact that the accused is at present a minister of state and there is ample chance of tampering of witnesses and the evidence by her."
The reference here is to an Ahmedabad sessions court granting Kondani anticipatory bail on February 5. The same special investigation team had then said in court she was not needed for investigation.

Making a case now for cancelling her anticipatory bail, the government has submitted: "... Witnesses have disclosed the name of the accused (Kodnani) and apprehending arrest she wants anticipatory bail, which cannot be granted in such a serious case."

"The learned (sessions) judge ought to have considered the fact that 95 people, including males, females and children lost their lives, 38 were injured and three are still missing. A prime facie case is made out against her and anticipatory bail cannot be granted in a serious offence of mass murders," the government has said.
This affidavit would have come up in Gujarat High Court on Thursday, but Justice AS Dave refused to hear the matter. A different judge will hear the case now.

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