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Met Kodnani in Assembly, hospital on morning of Naroda Gam riot: Amit Shah

IANS | Ahmedabad |

BJP president Amit Shah told a special SIT court here that he met former BJP minister Maya Kodnani in the state Assembly in Gandhinagar and later at the Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad on the day of the 2002 Naroda Gam riot.

Shah appeared before the special court as a defence witness for Kodnani, who has been charged with a series of offences, including murder and rioting, in the case.

Shah also told the judge, P B Desai, that he did not know where Kodnani went from the hospital after police escorted them some distance away from it.

The police, he said, had escorted him and Kodnani to a safe place as agitated crowds had surrounded them at the hospital.

Eleven Muslims were killed in Naroda Gam area on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning. A total of 82 persons are facing trial in the case.

Both Shah and Kodnani were BJP MLAs in 2002.

Kodnani had requested the court to summon Shah as a defence witness to prove her ‘alibi’ — that she was present in the Assembly and later at the Sola Civil Hospital on the day of the riot and not at Naroda Gam.

Shah said he had gone to the Assembly on February 28, 2002 to attend a session which started at 8.30 in the morning, and Kodnani was present in the House.

A resolution was passed in the Assembly condemning in the strongest possible terms the incident of burning of S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express near Godhra station the day before in which 59 karsevaks had died, he said.

Shah added that he then went to Sola Civil Hospital after receiving calls that bodies of the karsevaks had been brought to the hospital, where autopsies were also being conducted.

“As Sola Civil Hospital is in my constituency, I reached there between 9.30 am to 9.45 am,” Shah told the court.

“Maya Kodnani met us at Sola Civil Hospital.”

The crowd there was very agitated due to the killing of the karsevaks and had surrounded the hospital, Shah said.

“Police were escorting Mayaben out of the hospital when I first saw her at the hospital between 11.15 to 11.30 am.”

“They also escorted me out of the hospital along with Mayaben to some distance away in their vehicle, and dropped me at Gota Cross Road but she was still in the (police) jeep,” Shah added.

“After that I went to my home and I don’t know where she went,” the BJP president said.

Kodnani was made a junior minister in then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2007.

Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court had asked the SIT court to conclude the trial within four months. A bench headed by then Chief Justice J S Khehar asked the lower court to complete recording of evidence of defence witnesses in two months.

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

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

She has been convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail for her role in the Naroda Patiya riot in which 96 people were killed.