Exclusive | ‘Wherever BJP Asks Me to Work, I Will’: Maya Kodnani

Kodnani’s exoneration ‘renewed her faith in the judiciary and in God’, she said, speaking exclusively to The Quint.

4 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

Former Gujarat minister for women and child development, Maya Kodnani, has been in the spotlight over the past week after she was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court in the infamous Naroda Patiya massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Kodnani, who was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment by a trial court in 2012, was exonerated of all charges by the Gujarat High Court on 20 April 2018, stating that the 11 witnesses’ testimony against her were contradictory.

Kodnani, who has been in prison since 2012, was at home when the verdict was announced, as she had received temporary bail on medical grounds. A much relieved Kodnani spoke exclusively to The Quint and shared her experience in prison along with the details of what went down on 28 February 2002.

The Day Gujarat Burned

Speaking to The Quint, Kodnani explained her court testimony regarding her whereabouts on 28 February 2002, the day riots broke across Ahmedabad, including in Naroda Patiya, where she was accused of instigating violence.

“It was the day after the Sabarmati Express was torched in Godhra on 27 February 2002. I was at the State Assembly and the session had started from 8:30 am to 8:40 am. After the session ended, I stayed back to finish some official work, when at 9 am I received a call from a BJP worker from my area. He informed me that the charred remains of Kar Sevaks who had boarded the Sabarmati Express were reaching Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad, and few of the deceased were from my area. Being an MLA and a doctor, I immediately left Gandhinagar and reached the hospital where I identified some of the bodies and followed the hospital procedures. I was there for 1 ½ hours.”

‘I Was With Amit Shah’

According to Kodnani, by then a mob had gathered outside the hospital and things were looking grim, when she saw the current BJP national president and then-MLA from Sarkhej, Ahmedabad, Amit Shah, at the hospital.

We both were stuck at the hospital because the mob had swelled outside. The police inspector stationed there moved the two of us into police vans and escorted us out of the hospital. Amitbhai got off in the middle somewhere, and I was dropped off at RTO Circle. From there, I went Asarwa Civil Hospital where the injured were brought in from across the city.
Maya Kodnani

‘Why 6 Years Later?’

Kodnani claims that she is still perturbed by the fact that her name was dragged into the case six years after the riots had happened.

I couldn’t understand why this was happening. The incident happened in 2002 and since then, affidavits were filed in the Supreme Court which didn’t mention my name anywhere. If they wanted, they could have accused me earlier and added my name to the case, but they didn’t do it for six years. Even I was extremely confused as to what was happening to me. I have no idea who framed and for what reasons.

Depression and Electric Shocks in Jail

During her jail term, Kodnani claimed that she suffered from intestinal tuberculosis, a heart ailment, and a spinal problem as well as severe depression. She had said that she is required to take electric shocks from time to time.

She said, “It was natural that my psyche would get affected. While serving the sentence in jail, I went into severe depression. After many bouts with depression, I was admitted in the civil hospital. I even underwent electric shock treatments there as my health was in a very poor state. But in due course of time, I made myself stronger. I also had the guidance of many spiritual leaders.”

Life After Acquittal?

Kodnani claims that her faith in the justice system and in god has been renewed after she was exonerated of all charges by the high court.

“Even though I was never present at Naroda Patiya, I still was accused of being there. I had faith that someday, I would find a way out and get justice. My first reaction to the acquittal was ‘Bhagwan ke ghar derr hai Anderr nahi’. Truth has and will always triumph, and it has renewed my faith in god. The world may see me as guilty, but my 'Aatma' never looked upon me as guilty. And there is no bigger judge than the soul.”

When asked whether she felt sidelined by the BJP while she spent time in prison, Kodnani vehemently disagreed and said she will always remain an active BJP worker.

The BJP has always stood by me and I always had their moral support as well. It’s only been 3-4 days since I have been exonerated. In these days, I have not decided anything hard and fast. I have always been a BJP worker right from the beginning, and I still am. And a real BJP worker will always remain active wherever he or she is. So as a worker, wherever the party asks me to work, I will work for the party.
Maya Kodnani

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