Amit Shah seems to have a very powerful memory. The way he appeared as a witness in post-Godhra riot case, he seemed to have an exceptional memory. After more than fifteen years he still seems to remember everything so vividly as to where he had seen Maya Kodnani, a former minister in Narendra Modi government in Gujarat, and one of the main accused in Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gram massacres that killed more than 100 people in two incidents in the heart of Gujarat capital, Ahmedabad.
Despite the worst riot of the India underway, with killings and arsons all around, Amit Shah still remembers the presence of Maya Kodnani not at one place, but two places.
The BJP president told the designated court that he saw Maya Kodnani in the Gujarat Assembly around 8.30 am and again around 11-11.15 am at the Sola Civil Hospital on February 28, 2002.
While deposing before the judge as a witness in favor of Kodnani after she moved an application to prove her alibi that she was not present at Naroda Gam at the time the offence was committed he said, “I, Amit Anilchandra Shah, 53, national president of BJP, was a member of Sarkhej Assembly constituency. On February 28, 2002 at around 7.30-7.45 am, I left for Assembly where a condolence for the victims of Godhra carnage was held at around 8.30 am where I saw Mayaben Kodnani,” he said.
While testifying that he saw Kodnani at the hospital merely a few hours later, the BJP president said “Since slogans were being shouted against the incident and there was chaos, a police team escorted me and Mayaben out of the hospital and took us to a police jeep since my vehicle was parked a little far. I can’t say exactly but it was around 11 am to 11.15 am. I was dropped near Gota chowkdi where I got into my own vehicle”.
Maya Kodnani is not merely a side kick in one of the most horrible incidents of killing, destruction and communal slaughter during the infamous Gujarat riots, but she has been convicted of orchestrating the Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya massacres on 28 February 2002. At least 97 Muslims, including 36 women and 35 children, were murdered by stabbing, dismemberment and being burned alive individually as well as in groups.
The former minister for women and child development in Narendra Modi government, according to witnesses not just handed out swords to Hindu rioters, exhorted them to attack Muslims but went on to fire a pistol herself
A report by the Indian Express says, “According to the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the prosecuting agency, a mob of about 1,500 individuals had gathered at Baghol, Naroda Gam, around 9 am on February 28, 2002, to enforce a bandh called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to protest the attack on kar sevaks travelling by Sabarmati Express at Godhra the day before…Maya Kodnani and VHP leader Jaideep Patel arrived on the scene in their vehicles between 9 am and 9.30 am from different directions, the agency said. Both of them allegedly proceeded to give hate speeches to incite the already agitated mob, which then went on the rampage, attacking and setting fire to properties around them. They targeted a nearby mosque, and burnt a tea stall, the SIT has alleged. One person was allegedly set on fire near Bank of Baroda Street, and another five were burnt at Chandubhai ki Chaali…In all, 11 persons were killed in rioting. The Supreme Court-appointed SIT took over the case from local police, and achieved a major breakthrough with the arrests of Kodnani, Patel and others in 2009”.
The report while detailing the worst massacre of the entire Gujarat riots says, “The Muslim locality of Naroda Patiya is less than 2 km from Naroda Gam. On February 28, 2002, it became the site of one of the worst massacres of the Gujarat riots — 97 Muslims were killed by mobs. Kodnani was accused of reaching the spot where a large mob had assembled, and of inflaming the situation. Eleven eyewitnesses claimed to have seen her getting off her car, surrounded by the mob. She allegedly addressed them and incited them to kill Muslims”.
A report in The Hindu, while describing Naroda Patiya massacre says, “The Naroda-Patiya massacre was the most gruesome of all post-Godhra violent incidents, claiming the highest number of casualties. On February 28, 2002, when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad called a State-wide bandh to condemn the Godhra train carnage which took place the previous day, a 5,000-strong mob, allegedly instigated by the BJP and the Bajrang Dal, attacked the members of the minority community, burning many of them alive and throwing their bodies into a dry well. Many women were allegedly molested and raped before being killed, and their bodies hurled into the fire. Over 30 others were injured. The police recovered 94 bodies and three others were reported missing, but were declared dead later”.