12 July, 2014

Guilty, until proven innocent - A note on Mayaben Kodnani's conviction in Gujarat Riots (Part 2)

Yajur Sharma, Advocate

This is a continuation of the previous note and the purpose of the analysis here is to determine Mayaben Kodnani's (MK’s) presence at various places as alleged on the day of the riots. Additional inputs from the Naroda Gam case have been used to supplement the Naroda Patiya riot case analysis (Part 1)

Presence at Sola Hospital

(i) In sessions case no. 203/09, Prosecution Witness No. 135 Kantibhai (driver in police vehicle) states that on 28.02.2002, at around 8 in the morning, he had gone on duty to Sola Hospital. He further states that at about 10.30 am, Amit Shah and Mayaben Kodnani (MK) were cordoned off and brought to our mobile van. The witness then states that he dropped MK at R.T.O circle Subhash Bridge taking her via Chandlodiya, Nirnaynagar, Akhbarnagar where she stepped into a private vehicle which was following the van.

(ii) Again Prosecution Witness No. 139 in sessions case no. 203/09, who was on duty as a Mamlatdar, Daskroi Taluka states that he saw MK at Sola Civil Hospital at around 10.00 hours. He further states that he had seen her coming in the room where the dead bodies were kept and after staying there for around 15 minutes, she had gone to the place in the outside compound where our other officers were present. He states that he had seen her upto 11.30 hours in the morning.

(iii) The Ahmedabad city Mamlatdar Kantibhai (Prosecution witness no. 140) states that MK came at around 10.00 to 10.30 hours, remained there for 10-15 minutes and had to leave when the mob agitated.

(iv) Even in the footage of a Doordarshan Gujarat which has been made available to us, MK can be seen in Sola Hospital on the day of the riots. (View Video)

Presence at Gujarat Vidhan Sabha

(v) Also one Amrish Govindbhai Patel, Asawra MLA, has stated in his statement before Mr. Mal (I.O. of Naroda Gam case) that A-37 was at legislative assembly upto 9 am and upto 12.30 pm she was at Civil Hospital and from 3.30 pm again also she was at Civil Hospital. 

Alleged Presence at Naroda Patiya

(vi) There are eyewitness records in the Naroda Patiya case which allege that MK was at Naroda Patiya at 11.15 am.

(vii) The court in the Naroda Patiya judgment also relies on the revelation made by Suresh Chhara that "Mayaben was there at the site on the date of occurrence for the whole day up to 8 p.m." (Page 770)

(viii) The court in the Naroda Patiya Judgment also relies on the revelation made by Babu Bajrangi in the sting operation that "Mayaben had arrived at the Patiya at 4 pm". (Page 765)

(ix) Karman Khurshed Mysorewala who was working as Senior PI at the time of the incident states that the allegations that MK came to talk to him at the day of the riots is false. He further states that it is not true that MK had taken weapons from her vehicle and supplied them to the mob. He confirms the presence of few of the other accused at the scene of the crime i.e. Kishan Korani, Raju Chaubal, Babu Bajrangi and P.J. Rajput but denies the presence of MK or the allegation that she had met him.

(x) PW-236 states that he saw MK at the scene of crime at around 8.30 a.m. or 9 a.m. (Pg. 644, Para 7.1)

(xi) Another witness in Sessions Case No. 247/09 (Witness No. 236, Sidiquibhai Mansuri) says that he saw MK getting down from white vehicle and delivering instigating speeches at 8.30 hours in the morning near Natraj.

(xii) The video of the in-camera proceedings of the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha also shows MK’s presence in Vidhan Sabha at least till 8.40 in the morning. (View Video)

(xiii) Again PW-156 says that he saw MK at around 9 a.m. (Pg. 654, 655)

(xiv) Court in the Naroda Patiya Judgment opines that the depositions of the eleven witnesses proves that MK was present at the site somewhere between 9.00 to 9.30 am and that she was again seen at the site somewhere around 11 to 12 noon. (Page 729)

Other relevant observations - Credibility of the witnesses and their depositions

(xv) In sessions case no. 247/2009; witness no. 52 in her statement dated 30 May 2008 states that MK came in a vehicle in the morning. She further states that she entered with a revolver in the mob. She made a gesture and made firing out of the revolver towards the Muslim population. The witness states that there is a call for strike a day in advance, and she had been informed that she should not come to work. But in paragraph 9 of her deposition, she states that wearing khaki uniform she went for work. Mayaben took out pistol and started firing. The other prosecution and police witnesses state that prior to eleven hours in the morning, any firing did not take place. The fact that this witness went to work knowing well in advance that there was a bandh is itself unbelievable. The allegation that MK made firing out of the revolver towards the Muslim population adds further insult to injury as far as the witness's credibility is concerned.

(xvi) The above witness no. 52's story is put before the court first time in 2008. 

(xvii) Similarly, there are many witnesses who have not named MK in the year 2002 but only later when the investigations were reopened (year 2008 onward). This casts serious suspicion on the authenticity of the statements and raises the possibility of strategic implication of MK in the crime by means such as tutoring of witnesses. For e.g. refer the statements of Farida Abdul Khalifa (Prosecution Witness No. 149), Abdul Majid Usman Sheikh (Prosecution Witness No. 156), Jhulekabibi (Prosecution witness No. 176), Rashidabanu Imtiazhussian Momin (Prosecution witness no. 192), Harun Mohamed Shiekh (Prosecution Witness No. 198). So many witnesses, none of whom mentioned MK's name earlier bring her into fray after more than six years - there is a huge possibility that the depositions made by the various witnesses had been orchestrated at a later stage so as to implicate MK and it is very well possible that MK has been falsely involved in the case due to political vendetta and as a result of political rivalries.

(xviii) From the statements of the prosecution witness No. 135 and 140 in the Naroda Gam case it seems clear that MK was present at Sola Civil Hospital in the morning. The same has also been supported by footage from Doordarshan Gujarat capturing MK’s presence at Sola Civil Hospital on the day of the riots. (View Video) 

(xix) And although Amrish Govindbhai Patel’s statement is made before the police and not as reliable as statements made before the court, it is extremely relevant that it is not lightly ignored as the statement further reinforces the fact the MK was at Sola Civil Hospital at least during the first half on the day of the riots. 

(xx) Also, the fact that most of the witnesses have made allegations against MK only in the year 2008 also signifies that MK may have been implicated in the case as a result of political vendetta or rivalries as already elaborated earlier.

(xxi) All of the above observations reinforce the observations that were made in the first part of this analysis i.e. the depositions of the various eye-witnesses in the Naroda Patiya case alleging the presence of MK at the scene of the riots in the morning and projecting her as the instigator of the riots have to looked at with suspicion and doubt.  

(xxii) The statement of the Senior PI Mysorewala (provided above) where he states that MK never spoke to him nor was she present at Naroda Patiya on the day of the riots further casts a shadow of doubt over the conviction of MK for instigating the riots in the Narida Patiya judgment.

Read Part 1