February 3, 2009 1:59:56 am
The minister does not turn up at a scheduled public meeting in Sabarkantha
BJP leader and Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare and Higher Education,Dr Maya Kodnani,and VHP leader Jaydeep Patel,moved anticipatory bail pleas before the Ahmedabad City Sessions Court on Monday.
This was done immediately after the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) declared them as absconders in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam massacre cases.
Kodnani did not attend a public meeting in the tribal dominated Meghraj town in Sabarkantha district on Monday as earlier scheduled,for the state-wide mahila samelan,due to the SIT declaration. The hearing on the applications will be held on February 5.
Advocate Mitesh Amin,who filed the applications on behalf of Kodnani and Patel,said,We moved the application on Monday before the court of Sessions Judge A K Aswani,and the hearing on the same is scheduled on February 5.
Amin said the two have demanded anticipatory bail pleading innocence in the cases. We have cited the ground that the case is very old and that the SIT has shown their (Kodnanis and Patels) involvement in it,very late. Besides,it has also been said that none of them were present at the spot when the communal riots were reported, he added.
Earlier,Jan Sangharsh Manch,the group leading the legal battle for the riot-affected,had provided the mobile phone records of the two leaders to the SIT,saying that they were present in the two areas when the riots broke out.
On Monday morning,Meghraj Assistant District Collector Ranjit Kumar told Newsline that Kodnani was among the dignitaries supposed to attend the public meeting,as the programme had been chalked out a month ago. But later in evening,Kumar confirmed that the minister did not attend the programme.
The public meeting,according to Kumar,was part of the state governments initiative to educate the tribals about different government schemes for the uplift of the poor and rural women.
Kodnani was earlier asked by the SIT to depose in the case on December 26,2008. She did not honour the order on the pretext that she never received the order,as she was away in Godhra,planning the state function on Republic Day 2009.
Naroda Patiya & Kodnani: The Story So Far
VHP calls for a bandh on Feb 28,2002 as a protest against the alleged torching of the S6 coach of the Sabarmati Express at the Godhra railway station a day earlier. Riots break out across Gujarat,including the Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya areas.
Riots begin in Naroda Patiya around 11 am on February 28,2002. The rioting continues till 8 pm and a total of 95 persons (official figure) are butchered and burnt to death.
In the adjacent village of Naroda Gam,riots erupt around mid-noon that day. According to the police FIR,rioting in Naroda Gam starts around noon and continues till 2 pm that day. The official death toll in Naroda Gam is 11.
Ahmedabad City police starts investigating into the cases and arrest 46 and 49 accused in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam cases. Those arrested include Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi. The accused are later bailed out.
Ahmedabad police records Kodnani and Patels statements twice in 2003,but do not arrest them for lack of evidence.
Following representations,the Supreme Court orders for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to be constituted for further investigations into the 2002 riot cases,in March 2008.
While further investigations into the Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya cases are on,the SIT records the statements of more than 500-odd persons.
The SIT summons Kodnani and Patel in December 2008 for questioning.
Jaydeep Patel deposes before the SIT in the Gandhinagar Circuit office on December 26. Kodnani along with her husband and a local MLA from Ahmedabad,appears before the SIT at the Gandhinagar Range IG office two days later on December 28.
After more than a month-long investigation following this,the SIT summons the duo again on January 26 this year to depose before it on January 29.
The SIT summons the duo later in the evening and asks them to appear before it on January 31.
On February 1,the SIT declares Kodnani and Patel as absconders and also intimates the Ahmedabad city police about Kodnani and Patel being wanted by the SIT.
Defence counsels for the elusive duo on Monday move anticipatory bail pleas before a city and sessions judge in Ahmedabad. The matter is scheduled to be heard by the court on February 5.
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