Surendra Tahilram Kodnani (65) on Friday deposed as a defence witness for his wife, former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, before a special court in the 2002 Naroda Gam riot case. During his deposition before special judge P B Desai, Surendra — sporting a white shirt and black trousers — narrated the sequence of events on February 28, 2002, the day the riots broke out in Gujarat. He gave details suggesting Maya was never there at the scene of offence. Maya, who is out on bail in Naroda Patiya case, was also present, looking composed.
Narrating the series of events, Surendra said on February 27, 2002, they had retired to bed around 10.30 pm and at 12 midnight Maya received a call on her mobile phone from Odhav corporator Jagdish Patel. He informed her that the bodies of the Godhra train carnage victims had to be brought to Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad. Next morning, according to Surendra, Maya left for Gujarat Assembly around 7.45 am in a golden Maruti car.
According to the previous records of prosecution — Special Investigation Team — the colour of the car was white. A number of witnesses have identified her and the car at the scene of the offence. Surendra told the court he was constantly in touch with Maya over phone and knew that from the Assembly, where a condolence was held for the Godhra victims, she reached Sola hospital where the bodies had arrived.
He went on to say that he then got a call from one Jasuben, who worked at Shivam Maternity and Surgical Nursing Home run by Maya, to inform him that a patient was admitted for delivery. According to Surendra, as Dr Dhaval R Shah —Kodnanis’ business partner who used to attend patients at the nursing home — was not available at the time, he called his wife around 10.45 am. Maya had asked him over phone to contact Dr Shah again as she was at Sola hospital at the time. Surendra added that as Dr Shah was still not available, he again called Maya around 12.30 pm who was at Asarva Civil Hospital at the time. She told him that she was leaving the civil hospital for the nursing home.
Surendra further deposed that after 30 minutes, he again called Maya to know if she had reached the nursing home. She informed him that she had reached the nursing home and would be there until Dr Shah arrived. Surendra claimed after that Maya left the nursing home and went back to Asarva hospital. She had returned home around 5 pm on the day. During cross examination, Surendra said he didn’t have any record of the patient admitted to the nursing home. He also said they never gave payment receipts to patients. He, however, said the nursing home used to maintain a register, which was not available. Lastly, he couldn’t even produce any record of their partnership with Dr Shah. His deposition will continue on Monday.