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Hop, Skip, Bump & Jump: BJP’s Teflon Leader Maya Kodnani

The former Gujarat minister has managed to escape unscathed despite facing charges of murder, attempted murder and criminal conspiracy in the 2002 Godhra riots.
BJP leader Maya Kodnani. Image Courtesy: PTI

BJP leader Maya Kodnani. Image Courtesy: PTI

Maya Kodnani is the BJP’s Teflon politician—not even serious charges like murder, attempted murder and criminal conspiracy in the 2002 Godhra riots stick to her. She has always come out unscathed.

The BJP veteran and former Gujarat women and child development was among the 67 people acquitted by a special SIT Court in the Naroda Gam (Ahmedabad) massacre, in which 11 Muslims were burnt to death on February 28, 2002, on Thursday.    

Amid cheers of ‘Jai Shree Ram’, Kodnani folded her hands and said inside the court, according to Ahmedabad Mirror, “I touch the feet of the court. I was innocent in the case and got justice.”

After stepping out of the court, she told the Mirror, “I have nothing to say. I just want to say thank you to God with folded hands. I stand with folded hands and am grateful to God.

On April 20, 2018, Kodnani (68), dubbed the “kingpin” of the Naroda Patiya (Ahmedabad) massacre, in which 97 Muslims were killed on the same day as Naroda Gam, was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court (HC).

Read Also: Naroda Patiya Case: 3 Facts and 5 Questions

Kodnani’s latest and final acquittal could revive her political career. She was spotted campaigning for BJP candidates in the 2022 Gujarat Assembly elections.

“I don’t think she will fight elections now. But even if she does, I’d say, ‘Why not?’. She has faced trial in both cases and has been acquitted by the courts. She enjoys immense respect and popularity among party workers,” a senior party leader told The Indian Express.


Kodnani spent her childhood and studied in a Gujarati-medium school set up by her father in Deesa, a small town between Ahmedabad and the popular pilgrimage spot Ambaji (Banaskantha district).

Subsequently, she obtained an MBBS degree from the Baroda Medical College and a diploma in gynaecology and obstetrics. Meanwhile, Kodnani also joined the RSS’s women’s wing Rashtriya Sevika Samiti. Later, she set up Shivam Maternity Hospital, in Kubernagar (Naroda), Ahmedabad.

In the early 1990s, she was noticed by the BJP as among the most promising state leaders being a woman and a gynaecologist. She was appointed president of the Ahmedabad BJP Mahila Morcha.

In 1995, Kodnani forayed into politics with a victory in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) election and was appointed the first woman chairperson of the AMC’s Standing Committee from 1997 to 1998.

Rising quickly through the BJP ranks, she was elected MLA from the Naroda constituency after defeating the Congress candidate by a margin of more than 74,500 votes in 1998. In 2000, she was appointed as the BJP’s Ahmedabad president.


On February 28, 2002, a 5,000-10,000-strong mob attacked Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam, two localities in the suburbs of Ahmedabad where more than 2,000 Muslim families, mostly migrants from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, lived.

In 24 hours, the whole locality was destroyed, a mosque was burnt down, 97 people, as per official figures, including 36 women and 35 children, were hacked, stabbed, beheaded and quartered) and several women, including pregnant ones, were raped.

More than 150 calls made to the police went answered with local cops seen helping the attackers, who were reportedly wearing saffron headbands and chanting ‘pro-Hindu slogans’.

Kodnani, an MLA, allegedly gave provocative speeches to incite the mob, got out of a car, talked to some mob leaders and distributed swords among them.

The charges failed to stop her rise as she won the 2002 Assembly election by more than one lakh votes. In 2003, the party appointed her as Ahmedabad’s BJP unit president. In 2007, she was re-elected as MLA with more than 1.8 lakh votes. Then-chief minister Narendra Modi appointed her minister of state, women and child development and higher education.

In 2009, Kodnani had her first bout with the law with the two cases returning to haunt her. A Supreme Court-appointed SIT to further probe the 2002 Godhra train carnage and eight other gruesome cases, including the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam, made her an accused in the Naroda Patiya case. She was declared an absconder after failing to respond to SIT’s requests for a deposition.

Kodnani was arrested in March of that year with the HC rejecting her anticipatory bail, and she resigned.

In August 2012, a special trial court awarded life imprisonment to Kodnani and 30 others in the Naroda Patiya case with presiding Judge Jyotsana Yagnik calling her the “kingpin”.


In the run-up to the Lok Sabha election in May 2014, Modi said that “political games” resulted in Kodnani’s conviction. In July of that year, the HC suspended her sentence and granted her bail as she was suffering from gastric ailments). In April 2018, the HC acquitted her and 17 others ruling that none of the witnesses were reliable.  

Read Also: Gujarat HC Acquits 18 Out of 32 Convicted For the Naroda Patiya Massacre, Maya Kodnani Walks Free

The Naroda Gam trial dragged on for 13 years with the prosecution and defence examining 187 and 57 witnesses, respectively, and six judges successively presiding over the case, NDTV reported.

In September 2017, Amit Shah, who is the Union home minister, appeared as a defence witness after Kodnani

requested the court to summon him to prove her alibi that she was present in the Assembly and later at the Sola Civil Hospital, not at Naroda Gam.

The accused faced charges under Indian Penal Code Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), and 153 (provocation for riots), among others. The maximum punishment for these crimes is death.

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