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Maya Kodnani

Affiliation: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Categories: Most Dangerous
Location: Gujarat, India

Maya Surendrakumar Kodnani, aka Maya Kodnani, is a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Minister of State for Women and Child Development in the Government of Gujarat. She is the daughter of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker who moved to India during the Indian Partition.

Kodnani had her early education in a Gujarati-medium school and later joined Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the parallel organization of RSS for women.

In August 2012, Kodnani was convicted of orchestrating the Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya massacres of the 2002 Gujarat riots on 28 February 2002, in which 97 Muslims, including 36 women and 35 children, were murdered by stabbing, dismemberment, and burned alive individually as well as in groups. Thirty others received life sentences for their part in the riots in Naroda Patiya, a suburb of Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Kodnani handed out swords to Hindu rioters, encouraged them to attack Muslims, and at one point fired a pistol, according to witness statements seen by Reuters.

Considered one of the country’s worst religious riots,  more than 2,500 people, most of them Muslims, were hunted down and hacked, beaten, or burnt to death in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. The state was then ruled by BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the current Indian Prime Minister.

In 2018, a court overturned her conviction citing a lack of consistency in witness testimonies and after Indian Home Minister Amit Shah testified in court in Kodnani’s favor.

Rana Ayyub, who has written a book on the Gujarat genocide, Gujarat Files, called the overturning of conviction a natural outcome of the poor investigation into the Naroda Patiya riot case.