The curtains of the windows of a double-storeyed bungalow in the posh society of Shyamal area of Ahmedabad remained drawn. Inside, former minister and BJP leader Maya Kodnani remained closetted throughout Friday as the Gujarat High Court acquitted her of all the charges in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case.
“After the news of the judgment came, madam (Maya Kodnani) broke into tears and kept crying for more than an hour,” a security guard posted at her residence told The Indian Express. One of the few phone calls she took was of her son, Monish, who is a software engineer and lives in the US, as her siblings — sister Lata and brother Narayan Meghani — took the rest.
“Pichhle dus saal se hum traumatic condition me jee rahe the. Parmeshwar pe sab se jayada bharosa tha aur Bharat ki nyaypalika me vishwas rakhe huye the… Humko pata tha ki ek na ek din satya ka vijay hoga. (For the past 10 years, we were living in trauma. We had full faith on God and India’s judicial system… We knew that one day, the truth will triumph,” said Narayan Meghani, younger brother of Maya Kodnani, after the verdict.
“The sessions court had rejected that truth and did not believe it. There could be be some personal reasons of the sessions judge, but I do not want to get into that. But, we knew the truth about the incident that happened at Naroda Patiya 16 years ago. Our feelings are there with those 97 persons who died there. While sympathising with them, we want to say that she (Kodnani) was not there at all,” Meghani added, referring to the SIT court verdict in which his sister and former Ahmedabad BJP unit president was convicted.
The family also hit out at social activist Teesta Setalvad, accusing her of falsely framing Kodnani in the massacre case.
“…kuch NGOs, khas kar ke Teesta Setalvad… jo kabhi bhi Hindu samaj ki favour me nahi rahi hain, aur virodh me rahi hain…usne ye sab kiya. (Certain NGOs, mainly Teesta Setalvad, who were never in favour of Hindu community and rather remained in opposition to it… she did all this),” Meghani said at Bungalow No. 31 of Yogashram Society in Satellite area of Ahmedabad where the Kodnanis shifted from Shahibaug area a few years ago.
Adjacent to their bungalow, Kodnani’s husband, Surendra Kodnani, runs a clinic and vaccination centre by the name of “Neelkanth”. The name plate outside it said “Dr Surendrakumar”.
Throughout the day, Kodnani and her husband remained unapproachable. Kodnani’s younger sister, Lata, who remained with her all throughout the trial hearings refused to speak with media. “I do not know where Mayaben is. We will be gong to visit some temples now,” Meghani said.
However, a security guard at the residence said that Kodnani visited a temple in Vastrapur area along with family members. “After that, I do not know where she has gone,” the guard added.
Some of Kodnani’s supporters from Naroda area came to meet her with sweets and firecrackers in the afternoon. Her mother also paid her a visit. “However, madam (Kodnani) had made it clear that no bursting of firecrackers should be done. So, all of them returned home,” the security guard said.
After she was arrested by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the case, Kodnani and her family isolated themselves from public interactions.