BJP president Amit Shah, who appeared as defence witness before a special SIT court in Ahmedabad in connection with a 2002 Gujarat riots case, has backed Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani’s version in the case.
Shah told the court that Kodnani was present in the state assembly on the morning of the Naroda Gam riot on February 28, 2002.
The BJP president also told the court that he had met Kodnani at the Sola Civil Hospital that morning. The police, he said, escorted him and Kodnani to a safe place as agitated crowds had surrounded them at the hospital.
Shah added that he did not know where Kodnani went from the hospital after police escorted them some distance away from it.
Eleven Muslims were killed in Naroda Gam area on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning. A total of 82 persons are facing trial in the case.
Shah’s deposition started before Judge P B Desai who had last Tuesday summoned him in response to an application filed by Kodnani.
The court had allowed Kodnani’s plea to summon Shah and some others as witnesses in her defence in April this year.
On the day of the Naroda Gam riot near Ahmedabad, she said, she had visited the Sola Civil Hospital after attending the Legislative Assembly and was not present at the spot where the violence took place.
Shah, then an MLA, was also present at Sola Civil Hospital where bodies of the karsevaks killed in the Sabarmati Train burning incident were brought from Godhra. Shah’s testimony would help prove her `alibi’, that she was present elsewhere when the crime took place, she said.
Kodnani, who was an MLA in 2002, was made a junior minister in Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2007.
Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court had asked the SIT court to conclude the trial within four months. A bench headed by then Chief Justice J S Khehar asked the lower court to complete recording of evidence of defence witnesses in two months.
Naroda Gam is one of the nine major 2002 communal riot cases which were investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.
Kodnani has been convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail in the Naroda Patiya riot case in which 96 people were killed.
(With inputs from PTI)