BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday deposed as a defence witness in the SIT court hearing the 2002 Naroda Gam riot case. The court had summoned Shah on September 12 to appear before it today as a defence witness for former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani, who is one of the prime accused. The SIT court had summoned Shah while hearing a petition filed by Kodnani. The special SIT judge P B Desai had said it would not re-issue the summons if Shah failed to present himself before the court on the given date, PTI reported.
What is Naroda Gam riot case?
The Naroda Gam massacre in Ahmedabad is one of the nine major 2002 communal riots cases investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). The case dates back to 2002 when as many as 11 people, belonging to the minority community, were killed in Naroda Gam during the then Gujarat riots. These people were killed during a bandh called to protest the Godhra train burning incident.
As many as 82 people are facing trial in the case. Kodnani, who was serving as a minister in the then Narendra Modi-led state government, has already been convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail in the case of riot at Naroda Patiya where 97 people were killed, according to PTI.
In her application, Kodnani tried to prove innocence, saying on the day of violence she had visited Sola civil hospital after attending the state Legislative Assembly. She had claimed that Shah, who was an MLA at that time, was also present at the hospital, where bodies of ‘karsevaks’ killed in Sabarmati train burning incident were brought from Godhra.
Kodnani had claimed that Shah’s testimony will help prove her alibi.
Two weeks ago, Supreme Court had asked the SIT court to conclude the trial within four months.
What Amit Shah told the SIT Court
According to ANI, Amit Shah told the SIT court that “Maya Kodnani was not present in Naroda Gam, she was inside the state assembly at 8.30 am. From 9:30 am to 9:45 am I was at the Civil Hospital and I met Maya Kodnani there.”
“I was surrounded by people when I left hospital. Maya Kodnani and I were taken to our respective cars in Police jeep. It was 11-11:15 am that time,” he added.
Why Amit Shah has deposed now?
According to PTI, Kodnani had earlier failed to give the address to which the summons to Shah were to be issued. On two occasions, the former minister’s advocate had sought time for four days each to find out and submit the address on which the summons could be issued to the BJP chief.
In April this year, the apex court had allowed Kodnani’s plea to have the summons issued to Shah and some others as witnesses in her defence. At the subsequent hearings, the court had asked Kodnani to tell it whether Shah will depose as her witness.
Later, Kodnani’s advocate Amit Patel submitted before the court the residential address of Shah in Thaltej area of Ahmedabad city, after which the court issued the summons to him on the same address.
The Supreme court had asked the lower court to complete the recording of evidence of the remaining defence witnesses in two months.