A key eye witness to the Naroda Patiya massacre of 2002 has alleged that serious attempts have been made to lure him to change his statement before the court,denying the role of state minister Maya Kodnani in the carnage that killed 89 people.
Kodnani is now on anticipatory bail after the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) sought to arrest her in connection with the eight-year-old case.
Dildar Umrao Saiyed,the eye-witness,told Newsline on Sunday that those pressurising him to retract his statement also include some of the co-accused in the case. Earlier,he had also deposed before the SIT.
According to Saiyed,who stays at Jawahar Nagar in Naroda Patiya,the latest attempt to influence him to change his statement was on March 3. He claimed that Rajkumar Chaumal and Murali Sindhi both accused in the Naroda killings and three to five others including two women had approached him.
A fruit vendor on the Naroda Patiya Road asked me to go near the Natraj building on the road to talk to Chaumal and others,in connection with the case. Chaumal,Sindhi and three to five other people were waiting for me near a paan shop. They promised to reward me well if I changed my statement that I had seen Maya Kodnani and others at the crime scene in Naroda Patiya,distributing weapons to rioters, Saiyed said.
He added: Chaumal told me that Kodnanis hearing in the court is on March 9 and I must change my statement before that. I asked them for some time to think over and told them to meet me the next morning. I decided to expose them,but somebody leaked my intention to them. The next morning,Sindhi came to me and said that I had broken their trust and that they do not want to negotiate the deal anymore.
Despite many attempts,Rajkumar Chaumal could not be contacted for his comments. Saiyed said he did not lodge a police complaint in this regard,as he did not have any substantial evidence to prove it.
Earlier on November 25,2008,a bunch of unidentified men with iron rods had allegedly attacked Saiyed while he was going in a rickshaw on the Naroda Patiya Road.