Riot tainted Gujarat minister’s bail plea rejected


Ahmedabad : The Gujarat High Court Friday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of state minister Maya Kodnani, who is accused of leading mobs in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaam areas in which 106 people were killed during the 2002 sectarian violence.

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There is speculation that the minister for higher education would be arrested by the evening, around the time the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi are to address a public meeting here to kick off the party’s Lok Sabha campaign in the state.

But the state government put up a brave face saying the court ruling against the minister, who holds the triple charge of higher education, women and child welfare, was not an embarrassment to the BJP.

“This is not at all an embarrassment,” said a Gujarat government spokesperson, adding that nobody could be pronounced guilty “till the last word” was pronounced.

“Maya Kodnani’s anticipatory bail application had been rejected by the Gujarat High Court and she is expected to be arrested this evening,” senior Gujarat High Court lawyer Mukul Sinha told IANS.

Kodnani had been named by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) as one of those who encouraged rioters to attack Muslims in the Naroda Gaam and Naroda Patia localities in the immediate aftermath of the Godhra train burning on Feb 27, 2002.

In its plea to the Gujarat High Court, the SIT stated that Kodnani had been evading arrest even after being named by witnesses who submitted before it that they had seen the minister in the localities on that day.

Witnesses in the Kodnani case also told the SIT that they were being harassed over the phone and being told to drop charges against the minister.

The Godhra train burning led to widespread attacks on Muslims in the state, leading to 1,180 people, mostly Muslims, being killed.

The BJP rally, being addressed by Modi and Advani, is scheduled to begin at 4.45 p.m. at the Kankaria Football Ground in the Maninagar neighbourhood of Ahmedabad.