Gujarat minister accused in Naroda Gam riots gets bail (Lead)

February 5th, 2009 - 11:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, Feb 5 (IANS) A local court Thursday evening granted anticipatory bail to Gujarat Education Minister Mayaben Kodnani, who has been accused of inciting mobs in the Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya areas during the 2002 riots.Sessions Judge A.K. Ashvani granted anticipatory bail to Kodnani and also accepted the bail application of former Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Jaideep Patel.

Judge Ashvani granted bail to both for 90 days and asked them not to leave the country and cooperate during investigations. The court also instructed Kodnani and Patel not to enter Naroda area of the city until the Special Investigation Team (SIT) completes filing of the charge sheet in the two cases.

Kodnani and Patel were declared absconders in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam cases after the duo evaded summons of SIT.

The SIT headed by R. Raghavan is a five-member investigative team that includes ex-Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police C.D. Satpathy, three IPS officers from Gujarat Geetha Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia. SIT was appointed by the Supreme Court to probe post-Godhra riot cases.

The media was asked to keep away from the court room when the hearing began in the morning. The judge had deferred his order “until after 5 p.m.”.

Naroda MLA Kodnani is facing arrest after the SIT found discrepancies in her depositions last year and incriminating mobile phone records. Many victims in Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam areas have named Kodnani in their police complaints.

After the SIT began mounting pressure on Kodnani, she went into hiding. Kodnani did not appear before the SIT on Jan 29 and 30. Kodnani then applied for anticipatory bail and the matter came up before judge Ashvani Thursday.

Kodnani has sought bail on the ground that people with serious involvement are given regular bail and so she too is entitled to regular bail as she had cooperated with the SIT earlier, and also on medical grounds as she had a heart problem.

On Jan 26, the SIT served notice at her residence asking her to depose on Jan 29. The second notice was issued when she failed to turn up and asked her to appear on Jan 31. Kodnani has made herself scarce since then.

SIT officials also visited Kodnani’s Shivam Nursing and Maternity Home in Saijpur Bogha of the city where staff members said she was not present and pleaded ignorance of her whereabouts. There was no clue to where she was at her MLA office or residence. The SIT then informed the police to trace and arrest her.

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