Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani, who was acquitted in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case, on Saturday said that she has not yet thought about joining active politics, but will continue to remain a Bharatiya Janata Party worker.
"Truth always wins," she said on her acquittal on Friday, which came nearly a decade after she was made an accused in the case in which 97 people were killed by a mob.
"I am a BJP worker, I was a BJP worker and will continue to remain a BJP worker. I have not thought about it (joining active politics), as the court judgment came only yesterday (Friday). I am a party worker and will continue to remain so," Kodnani told a local TV news channel.
The three-time member of legislative assembly said she got the support of her entire family, which gave her 'strength to pass through the difficult times'.
"Time was put me to the test. This is how I see it. And I have managed to sail through difficult, testing times," she said.
On leaders of the ruling BJP welcoming her acquittal, she said, "I am a BJP worker and, therefore, it is natural for the party's senior leaders and well wishers (to wish me after the verdict)," she said.
A gynaecologist by profession, Kodnani was elected as an MLA three times from Naroda constituency in Ahmedabad -- in 1998, 2002 and 2007 -- and became the minister for women and child development in the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat in 2007.
She was made an accused in 2008 in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam massacre cases by the Special Investigation Team probing the post-Godhra riots cases.
In August 2012, a special SIT court sentenced her to 28 years in jail for her role in Naroda Patiya case. She had been arrested in March 2009, but was out on bail since July 2014.
In 2017, on her application in a special SIT court hearing the Naroda Gam case, BJP chief Amit Shah had deposed as her defence witness. He had told the court that on February 28, 2002, when the massacre took place, he saw Kodnani in the state assembly and then at Sola civil hospital, but had no idea where she went after that.
The Naroda Gam case is still being heard by the special court, in which 11 persons of the minority community were killed.
While acquitting Kodnani on Friday, the Gujarat high court upheld the conviction of former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya riots case.
The high court said the statements made by witnesses regarding Kodnani's role were contradictory. No prosecution witness mentioned that she talked to them at the relevant time, the high court noted.
The trial court had convicted her for a criminal conspiracy under section 120 (B) of the IPC, but the evidence didn't establish the charge, the high court said.
A mob killed 97 people, most of them from a minority community, in Naroda Patiya area of Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the torching of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra which triggered state-wide riots.
Photograph: PTI Photo