Finally, The First Sign Of Justice

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Duly charged Maya Kodnani is the first Gujarat minister to be arrested
Duly charged Maya Kodnani is the first Gujarat minister to be arrested
Photo: Trupti

AAJ SHAAYAD hum insaaf ki umeed kar sakte hain” (Perhaps today we can hope for justice) mused Nanumiyan Malek, one of the key witnesses in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon riot cases. Last week, the Gujarat High Court rejected the anticipatory bail applications of State Minister Maya Kodnani and VHP leader Jaideep Patel. Malek’s testimony in this regard was crucial.

This was the first arrest of a state minister for involvement in the post- Godhra riots of 2002, one of the worst communal riots in India’s history. The Supreme Court appointed a Special Investigative Team (SIT) in March 2008 to re-investigate nine of the worst post- Godhra riots, including the Gulbarg Society massacre which saw the killing of ex-MP Ehsaan Jaafri along with 40 others, as well as the infamous Naroda Patiya massacre which claimed 106 lives. The SIT approached the High Court to strike down the anticipatory bail granted by the Sessions Court to Kodnani and Patel.

Significantly, the SIT team asked for the tapes of the landmark 2007 TEHELKA investigation which exposed the involvement of the state machinery. These tapes also helped indict not just the two figures named above but other leaders as well as policemen for playing a role in the riots. This TEHELKA exposé brought to the fore not just Kodnani and Patel but also State Home Minister Gordhan Zadaphia and Chief Minister Narendra Modi, among others. In one of the tapes an accused had spoken at length of how Maya Kodnani moved around all day in an open jeep wearing a saffron headband, raising slogans and instigating the mob to kill Muslims.

The Tehelka tapes reveal how Kodnani instigated the mob to kill Muslims

Richard: Mayaben was moving around all day in an open jeep…

TEHELKA: On the day of the Patiya massacre…

Richard: [She was saying] Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram… wearing a saffron headband… She kept raising slogans..She said, carry on with your work, I’m here [to protect you].

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THE MAYA KODNANI CASE FILE

Charged under section 143 of the Indian Penal Code

Charged with attempt to murder for firing from her own revolver

40 witnesses testified. Telephone records proved presence in riot area

Gujarat High Court has not given her permission to approach Supreme Court

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In another taped confession, Babu Bajrangi who was arrested and later let off had said that he was in constant touch with Jaideep Patel and that he had spoken to him at least eleven times to update him about the carnage.