During the cross-examination of activist Medha Patkar in connection with the 2002 assault case at Sabarmati Ashram, the defence alleged that “the incident was an outcome of public anger against the activist and her Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) whose activities were anti-Gujarat”.
Lawyer Ajay Choksi, representing one of the accused in the case — Amit P Shah, former Mayor of Ahmedabad and BJP leader — summed up his cross-examination of Patkar on Tuesday while saying that the purpose of levelling allegations in the FIR against Shah was to get political mileage.
In April 2002, about 100 to 200 people had thronged the ashram where a peace meeting was going on, following the post-Godhra riots. There were a number of activists and mediapersons who were targeted by the mob, along with Patkar.
Subsequently, an FIR was lodged against Amit Thakar, the then BJP youth wing president, BJP corporator Amit Shah, Rohit Patel, V K Saxena, president of city-based NGO National Council for Civil Liberties and a group of BJP workers.
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Choksi grilled Patkar during the cross-examination that lasted for about five hours. He said that minutes before the assault, Patkar was verbally abused and was misbehaved yet she didn’t complain to the policemen who were deployed there. When he asked Patkar whether she informed the policemen present at the spot the activist-turned-politician said she didn’t remember.
Patkar was also questioned by Choksi that she came to the meeting despite the fact that she was not invited by city-based Darpana Academy, run by Mallika Sarabhai. While answering it, she said that she participated in the meeting after she received a joint invitation.
“The meeting was held in April (to condemn riots) when the situation had become peaceful. Still you came uninvited. Do you recognise who all had come to the meeting?” Choksi questioned her. In response, she said that she didn’t’ remember the exact number, but organisations such as Lok Samiti, Sarvoday Mandal, Sarvoday Samaj, PUCL, Darpana Academy, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, among others, were there.
Patkar also recalled the names of the participants, including Chunnilal Vaidya and Mallika Sarabhai. Choksi accused Patkar “misguided the courts” in petitions and affidavits filed in different courts such as Maharashtra, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh. It was revealed after the cross-examination of her earlier petitions and affidavits, he said. Another round of cross-examination will be done on September 16.