Special judge Dr Jyotsna Yagnik who conducted the trial in the Naroda Patia murder case, noted in her verdict that, according to eyewitnesses, the riots had intensified and peaked after the arrival of Naroda MLA Maya Kodnani. The court also set aside Kodnani’s defence that she was at the Gujarat assembly during the massacre and that she had become a victim of political conspiracy.
“As far as Kodnani and other leaders of the communal riot are concerned, and as far as other accused leaders who were admittedly members of the Peace Committee of the Sardarnagar police station and Naroda police station are concerned, they have not been found to have done any act of a peace agent or a pacifying agent,” said the court in its judgment. “The CD provided by the accused [Kodnani] shows that the accused was in the Legislative Assembly up to 8:40 a.m. of February 28, 2002. This court is of the opinion that Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad are twin cities and that it is hardly at a distance of 30 km from Ahmedabad,” the court said.
It further said that if Kodnani was relieved at 8:40 a.m. (as had been claimed by her), it could not have been difficult for her to reach Naroda Patia after 9 a.m. “In the records of this case, the witnesses have stated that all the disturbances were started and, in fact, reached a peak after the arrival of Kodnani,” the court said.
It further said that if Kodnani had not provoked Hindus (as had been argued by the defence), then there was nothing on record to show that she had played the role of a pacifying agent. “She had not done anything to stop the massacre; she had not instructed even the police officers to stop the lawlessness at the site,” the court observed.
Regarding the role of the state police in shielding Kodnani, the court said: “This court is not sitting in an ivory tower and is conscious of the hard realities of the system. In the system, normally if a police officer knows the desire of the political leader, the officer would not leave a single stone unturned to give all colours to such desire.” The court further said that to respect and to give ‘colours’ to the desire of Kodnani, the police had taken all care to ensure that the statements of all the eyewitnesses repeated the same thing.
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