Widow of Modi bete noire to head Gujarat child rights panel

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Ahmedabad, Jan 13 (IANS) The Anandiben Patel government in Gujarat on Wednesday appointed Jagruti Pandya, widow of former state home minister Haren Pandya who was assassinated in 2003, as chairperson of the Gujarat State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on a three-year term.

The commission was constituted in September 2012 and its member Bharatiben Virsangbhai Tadvi held temporary charge as chief till Wednesday.

Pandya would be the chairperson of the body for three years from the day she takes charge, according to an official notification.

Pandya’s appointment assumes significance because she was repeatedly demanding that her husband’s assassination during the tenure of then chief minister Narendra Modi be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation, instead of Gujarat Police.

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Meanwhile, Haren Pandya’s father Vithalbhai Pandya, who died several years later, had opened a front against Modi alleging his role in the murder of his son.

Vithalbhai, who contested the Lok Sabha elections against L.K. Advani, went to town calling Modi names during his campaign.

Jagruti Pandya, who did not refer to Modi while demanding a CBI inquiry, had long ago snapped ties with Haren Pandya’s family for personal reasons.

Haren Pandya, who was state home minister prior to the 2002 communal violence, was assassinated in 2003 near a public park in Ahmedabad while on his morning walk.

Pandya had reportedly fallen from Modi’s grace after he deposed before an independent human rights tribunal headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer against the BJP government for the 2002 communal riots.

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Earlier, he had refused to vacate his Ellis Bridge seat for a by-election in February 2002 in Ahmedabad for Modi to contest after he became chief minister for the first time.

State finance minister Vajubhai Patel later made space for Modi to stand from Rajkot-II seat.

Later, Jagruti Pandya contested the 2012 assembly elections from Ellis Bridge on a ticket of the Gujarat Parivartan Party, headed by Keshubhai Patel, former chief minister and a staunch rival of Modi.

She fought the elections “seeking justice” for her late husband.

The Gujarat Parivartan Party later merged with the BJP while Pandya went into oblivion.

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