For the first time since more than 800 people were killed in the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, two top Sangh leaders of the state are on the run, fearing arrest for their alleged involvement in the killings.
Gujarat’s Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare and Minister of State for Higher Education Maya Kodnani and former Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) general secretary for Gujarat Jaydeep Patel have been declared “untraceable” by the Special Investigation Team (SIT).
The SIT was formed by the Supreme Court to re-investigate over 200 cases of rioting and killings registered during the communal frenzy seven years ago.
Speaking to HT from Ahmedabad, former Director of Central Bureau of Investigation and SIT chief R.K. Raghwan said: “They are untraceable and we have sent out search parties to find them.”
This move by the SIT comes after Kodnani and Patel failed to appear before it for questioning. “Last week we had issued notices asking them to present themselves for questioning, but they did not appear,” said Raghwan.
On Monday, Kodnani and Patel moved the Ahmedabad sessions court seeking anticipatory bail.
The SIT wants to question Kodnani and Patel in connection with their alleged involvement in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam cases in which more than 100 people were killed.
Ahmedabad-based lawyer Mitesh Amin, who has filed the anticipatory bail applications on behalf of Kodnani and Patel, said, “We have moved the court on the grounds that the case is very old and SIT has shown their (Kodnani’s and Patel’s) involvement after such a long time. Also, there is no evidence that they were present at the spot during the communal riots.”
The SIT wants to question Kodnani and Patel as their mobile phone records reveal they were present in the two riot-affected areas.