Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani, made her first public appearance yesterday, since her acquittal in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case in April this year.
Kodnani chose to attend a BJP event in the capital of Gujarat, Gandhinagar on Saturday where she shared the dais with Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani and other women leaders of the ruling party on the second day, of the two-day BJP women wing’s national convention at Trimandir at Adalaj in Gandhinagar.
Others who were present on the dais Saturday were BJP Mahila Morcha national president Vijaya Rahatkar and MP Saroj Pandey. Thousands of women workers of BJP from across the country participated in the convention.
While Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attended the inaugural session on Friday, Smriti Irani attended the second day of the session. Speaking on the occasion, Smriti Irani said that women workers from across the country will contribute to make the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership retain power in 2019.
Who is Maya Kodnani?
- In 2012, BJP leader and Gujarat minister, Maya Kodnani, was sentenced to jail for her role in the riots in Naroda Patiya, a suburb of Ahmedabad where 97 Muslims were killed in the single bloodiest episode of the three-day violence that followed the Godhra train burning of February 27 2002, in which 59 Hindu volunteers were killed
- Five years after the riots, Maya Kodnani served as Minister for Woman and Child Development in the cabinet of then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. She held the ministry till her arrest in 2009
- A Special Investigation Team (SIT) had told the trial court that a day after the Godhra incident, 11 witnesses saw Maya Kodnani inciting mobs in the Naroda area. The witnesses told the court that they saw her handing out swords to rioters, exhorting them to attack Muslims, and at one point firing a pistol
- A trial court called her “the kingpin of the riots”, however, in April 2018, she was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court. The court gave Kodnani, the 63-year-old doctor, benefit of the doubt but confirmed the convictions of 12 other accused, including Babu Bajrangi, a firebrand leader of the Bajrang Dal, which is linked to the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
- Kodnani still remains an accused in another 2002 riot case of Naroda Gam in which 11 Muslims were killed. The case is being heard by a special SIT court in Gandhinagar
- After her acquittal in the Naroda Patiya case, Kodnani had told reporters that she was, and will remain a BJP party worker
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