India

Saw Kodnani at assembly, hospital on morning of riots, Amit Shah tells court

AHMEDABAD: BJP president Amit Shah took to the witness box on Monday and deposed before the special court that former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani + was present inside the state assembly and at Sola Civil Hospital on the morning of February 28, 2002, when 11 persons were killed in communal rioting at Naroda Gam in Ahmedabad.
Shah+ , who arrived at the court amid tight security, deposed for nearly 40 minutes before special judge P B Desai as Kodnani’s defence witness. He, however, insisted that he did not come “to testify to defend Mayaben because we belong to the same political party”.
Kodnani had sought Shah’s examination to establish her alibi that she was at the assembly and Sola Civil Hospital on the morning of February 28, 2002. Before Shah, 12 witnesses were examined in Kodnani’s defence.
Prosecution witnesses and riots victims have earlier told the court, during the course of the trial which began in 2009, that Kodnani had visited the spot and incited the mob in the morning. Their testimonies revealed that Kodnani visited Naroda Gam between 9.30 and 10.30 am.
In his deposition, Shah could not tell the court the exact time when he saw Kodnani at the hospital after he reached the hospital between 9.30- 9.45 am. He told the court that he did not see Kodnani when he reached the hospital. He, however, negated a question by the prosecution that he first saw Kodnani in hospital at 10.30am, when he was sitting on a bench there.
The only other time to which Shah committed was that he left the hospital at around 11-11.15am. He was cordoned off by police as an agitated mob began shouting slogans, and he was made to sit in a police vehicle. Shah told the court that Kodnani too was escorted by police then and she was made to sit in the same vehicle with him. When he got off the vehicle, Kodnani was still sitting in the police vehicle. He said he had no idea where Kodnani went thereafter.
Replying to a prosecution’s question, Shah also said that he had no inkling where Kodnani went after she left the state assembly and before she arrived at the hospital.