Gujarat’s wanted minister is missing, Congress slams Modi


Ahmedabad : Gujarat’s minister Maya Kodnani, wanted by a Supreme Court appointed panel probing the communal violence of 2002, has remained untraced and the opposition Congress Wednesday accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to shield her.

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Minister of State for Women and Child Development Maya Kodnani has sought anticipatory bail from a court here. While the plea will be heard Thursday, she has remained traceless though the Special Investigation Team has served two summons on her.

“She is wanted and her whereabouts are well-known to the police, to the SIT and the powers-that-be. She can be traced through her security guards. She is an absconder,” said Gujarat Congress spokesman Arjun Modhwadia.

Addressing mediapersons here, he said Chief Minister Narendra Modi is fully responsible for Kodnani being at large.

“The SIT is not arresting her despite an arrest warrant out for her, saying it is the job of police,” Modhwadia said.

“The BJP (the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party) is flouting all constitutional norms in saving Kodnani from arrest until she gets anticipatory bail,” he said.

The SIT, appointed by the Supreme Court to probe major cases of communal violence during 2002, served Kodnani a notice Jan 26 asking her to depose before it Jan 29. When she failed to turn up, the panel sent a fresh notice, summoning her Jan 31.

Kodnani is alleged to have led mobs in Naroda village and Naroda Patiya on the outskirts of the city Feb 28, 2002. At least 89 people were killed in the massacre.

As many as 22 survivors have named Kodnani as an accused while 24 witnesses have named Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaideep Patel – who too has been summoned repeatedly and has been absconding.

Health Minister and government spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said: “Kodnani, apart from being a minister, has a constitutional right, like you and me, to seek redress from court.”

“She has approached the court. Until the court takes a decision, where is the question of the state government taking a stand (in her favour)? So far, the government has not taken any stand on this matter,” Vyas told IANS.

But Modhwadia said Kodnani should have resigned immediately owning moral responsibility when she appeared before the SIT in December. “The chief minister should have asked her to resign and should have directed the police to arrest her,” he said.

Sectarian strife in the state in the aftermath of the bogey burning at Godhra, 140 km from here, on feb 27, 2002, was a “well-planned conspiracy by the state BJP”, the Congress leader said.

“Instead of rounding up the main culprits, they were made ministers. Half the state cabinet ministers have been involved in riots,” said Modhwadia.