The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Riot blame on BJP leader

Ahmedabad, Aug. 27: After slain former minister Haren Pandya, fingers were today pointed at another BJP legislator and a VHP leader for having allegedly egged on a mob to butcher people in the backlash to the Godhra carnage.

Riot victim Nanumiyan told the Nanavati Commission probing the post-Godhra violence that local MLA Mayaben Kodnani and VHP leader Jaydeep Patel allegedly instigated the mob in Naroda-Gaam, which ran amok and ended up killing 11 people and forcing 85 minority families to shift to a refugee camp in fear.

Fifty-eight-year-old Nanumiyan, a small-time businessman, said trouble in his locality began only after the duo allegedly mingled with the people and spurred them to take revenge for the burning alive of the kar sevaks on a train in February last year.

This is the second time a prominent BJP leader — who is also the BJP city president — has been named by witnesses for fuelling the riots. Last month, a victim from Ahmedabad told the Nanavati Commission that Pandya had led a frenzied mob that attacked an apartment in the Paldi area.

Nanumiyan, who lives close to a police post, also alleged that lawkeepers looked the other way when things grew ugly. When the murderous mob ran riot, not a single policeman was in sight though the police post was a few hundred yards away, he said.

He claimed that the policemen at the post pushed him and a few others towards the mob when they rushed in crying for help. He saw five charred bodies at the end of the rioting and rescued a woman who was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon, he said.

Soon after, he and several others sought shelter in the Shah Alam relief camp, where he had lived for 10 months, he said.

When government defence counsel Arvind Pandya asked why he did not name Mayaben in his police report, Nanumiyan retorted: “I had verbally told the police everything I saw. If the police did not take cognizance, I cannot help it.”

But he was not able to adequately recreate the exact sequence of events. All he could say for certain was Mayaben had been at Naroda-Gaam between 10 and 11 in the morning.

Mayaben flatly denied the allegation. Claiming Nanumiyan had been “tutored” in the relief camp to name BJP leaders, she said: “That is why he lodged an FIR after 17 days, accusing me and other leaders affiliated to the Sangh parivar.”

The legislator said she had been in the Assembly that morning and had made a speech. After that, she was cooped up with Anandiben Patel in her chamber, from where she rushed to Sola Civil Hospital where the bodies of the Godhra victims had been taken. Then, she went to Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.

“The superintendent of the civil hospital will vouch for it. How could I be present in Naroda-Gaam (at the same time)'” she asked.

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