Ahmedabad, Aug. 30: The large signboard on the maternity home’s pink walls still bears the name of Maya Kodnani, giving no hint of the recent changes that have befallen the clinic or the woman who set it up.
The disgraced gynaecologist and former minister sold it two months ago, sensing she could be convicted in the riot case against her and it would be impossible to run the establishment from jail, a source close to her said.
But the signboard’s continuance appears almost symbolic. For, the maternity home at Saijpur, barely 1km from pogrom site Naroda Patia, stands as a monument to the beginning and end of Maya’s professional and political careers.
In her heyday, the young gynaecologist who had married a fellow Sindhi general physician, Surendra Kodnani, made use of her husband’s Sangh parivar connections to climb the political ladder. It was around the time she first became councillor from Naroda in 1995 that Maya established the clinic, Shivam Surgical Nursing Home, which soon became a landmark in the middle-class neighbourhood.
Through her three stints as MLA and her two-year ministership, she continued treating patients at the clinic while her husband helped manage it — till the price of the massacre of 97 Muslims threatened to catch up with her.
She sold the second-floor, 15-bed maternity home to another gynaecologist, Dr Sanjeev Shah, days before the verdict’s originally scheduled date of June 30 but retained her office of MLA on the building’s first floor.
Surendra opened a new chamber nearby which was closed today, a day after the deferred verdict convicted Maya.
Dr Shah renamed the maternity home after his mother as Gunwanti Ba Women’s Hospital, a name tucked away in a smaller signboard, but didn’t remove the older and more prominent one carrying Maya’s name.
“In April, I was approached by someone who told me that Maya Kodnani wanted to sell her maternity home,” said the doctor, who already ran a women’s clinic nearby.
The maternity home
Maya Kodnani sold two months ago where the
old signboard still
stands, bearing her name
“I was looking for one. I found the location and space ideal. We finalised the deal and paid up in June.”
Dr Shah refused to reveal the sum — real estate sources said a 2,500sqft clinic in the area would cost Rs 70 lakh to Rs 1 crore — or discuss Maya’s probable reasons for selling the establishment.
He spoke highly of the MLA as a gynaecologist but couldn’t help betraying his nervousness about whether her conviction might affect him professionally now that he has bought her establishment.
“She enjoyed a lot of goodwill in the area. Nobody believes that she instigated the mob and distributed weapons,” he said, while taking care to add: “If she did, it was very bad.”
Perhaps the doctor was being cautious, for Lata Mulchandani, an elderly Sindhi lady who lives in the neighbourhood and knew the MLA, said: “A doctor who has been involved in rioting should be boycotted. If the charges are true, I would not go to such a doctor for treatment.”
It’s such reactions that Dr Shah fears might affect his maternity home, especially because few know about its hush-hush change of hands two months ago. He says he is thinking of removing the old signboard.
Besides, he realises that the relatives of many of the other 31 convicts, mostly from nearby Charnagar, now blame Maya for their misfortune.
But he added: “She was very popular among many of her patients who invariably enquire about her, telling me they want to be examined by her, unaware that she no longer runs the clinic.”
The flow of patients, however, had begun thinning during the three-year trial as Maya was forced to be in the courtroom till evening every working day and could visit the maternity home only irregularly.
Maya had graduated as an MBBS from Ahmedabad and later earned a DG (Diploma in Gynaecology) but never did her master’s (MS). Her fortunes rose after the 2002 riots and she became city BJP chief and then a state minister.
But things changed once the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team arrested her in 2009 and she had to spend two months in jail and resign as minister.
Maya, who claims to be a victim of a political conspiracy, was back in jail yesterday and will learn about her sentence tomorrow. The clinic she once owned was open today and functioned normally.