A witness told a special court hearing the 2002 Naroda Gam riot case here today that he did not see former Gujarat minister Mayaben Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi or VHP leader Jaideep Patel in the mob that killed 11 persons on February 28, 2002. Dhaval Patel, a defence witness, testified before the court that these three key accused, along with former BJP councillor Vallabh Patel, were not in the mob which attacked Muslims living in the village following the Godhra train burning incident. Patel told the judge P M Desai that he runs a newspaper shop near the Naroda police station for the last many years. A mob of around 150 persons, who were not armed, came from Dehgam side at around 10.15 am on the February 28 morning, but Kodnani, Bajrangi, Jaideep Patel and Vallabh Patel were not in the mob, he said. The police dispersed the mob using force, he added. Patel, who claimed to be in his shop at the time, said though VHP had given a bandh call that day, daily life was not hit badly, and the atmosphere was peaceful till he left his shop at around noon. Naroda Gam massacre is one of the nine major riot cases investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team. A total of 82 persons including Kodnani are facing trial in the case.
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