Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Patia judge hinted at Modi govt’s bid to shield Kodnani

TOI 02AUG2012

Ajay Umat TNN 

Ahmedabad: With Narendra Modi in Sadbhavana mode, his government may have distanced itself from former minister Maya Kodnani, sentenced to 28 years in jail for her role in the Naroda Patia massacre. But many believe that behind the scenes, his government left no stone unturned to help her. Judge Jyotsna Yagnik observed in the Naroda Patia verdict that the police helped Kodnani, describing her as “kingpin” of the violence. 
    The judge’s observation came after Kodnani claimed she was a victim of politics. In 2007, Kodnani was elevated as MoS for women’s development and child welfare despite allegations of her involvement in the massacre. 
    After a 37-month trial, the court observed Kodnani was “tremendously favoured by the then investigating agencies (before the special investigation team took over). All care, at the cost of the duty of the investigating officer and even the interest of the victims, was taken to see to it that Kodnani’s involvement does not come on the books. This, in fact, comes in the way to believe that Kodnani was ever a victim of any politics.” 
    Kodnani was not even named in the first FIR Naroda police lodged, even though the victims named her. She was spared when the probe was transferred to the crime branch in 2002. 
    The victims complained to then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his Gujarat visit about police efforts to shield the powerful. Following Vajpayee’s instructions, 27 complaints were accepted in March 2002. On the basis of these, a separate FIR was filed naming Kodnani, VHP leader Jaideep Patel and Naroda’s police inspector K K Mysorewala. But the case was closed on the pretext of merging it with the original FIR and names of the powerful were removed. When IPS officer Rahul Sharma was asked to assist the crime branch in the riot probe, he suggested that names of these three be included in the chargesheet. Sharma was transferred out of Ahmedabad. But by then, the IPS officer had obtained a CD with call details of prominent people present at various places in Ahmedabad when the riots were taking place. 
    Sharma furnished the call details before the state and central panels. Analysis of this data revealed Kodnani’s presence at Naroda Patia during the massacre. The SIT arrested Kodnani in 2009 after which she resigned as minister. She was given a lifer on August 31.