Naroda Patiya massacre: Gujarat HC acquits Kodnani, convicts Babu Bajrangi

Maya Kodnani (L) and Babu Bhai Patell alias Babu Bajrangi

Gandhinagar (Gujarat), April 20, 2018 (TMC Desk) A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on Friday acquitted former Bharatiya Janata Party Minister Maya Kodnani while upholding the conviction of Babu Bajrangi, a leader of Bajrang Dal, an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS in the Naroda Patiya massacre case of 2002.

Kodnani, a former minister was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court for inciting a mob post the Godhra train carnage in 2002. The court found Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi guilty and upheld his conviction.

As NDTV reported, Maya Kodnani, a gynaecologist, was sentenced to jail in 2012, for her role in the riots in Naroda Patiya, a suburb of Ahmedabad, where 100 Muslims were killed in the single bloodiest episode of the three-day violence that followed the Godhra train burning of February 27, 2002, in which 59 Hindu volunteers were killed.

“A Special Investigation Team had said that a day after the Godhra incident, Maya Kodnani incited mobs and was seen at the spot by 11 witnesses. Witnesses had told the court that she handed out swords to rioters, exhorted them to attack Muslims and at one point fired a pistol.” NDTV reported.

A trial court had held that she organised the mass killings. However, the High Court noted that out of the 11 witnesses, none had named her when the riots case was being registered. Witnesses said they had seen Maya Kodnani coming out of her car to talk to the police. The court said “no criminal conspiracy could be established”.

BJP president Amit Shah had testified that when the riots took place, he had seen Maya Kodnani first at the Gujarat assembly and then at the hospital she ran.

Maya Kodnani was granted bail in 2014 after she said she was very unwell; she was reportedly given shock therapy for depression. She is also accused of murder in the riots that took place on the same day, February 28, 2002, next door in Naroda Gram, where 11 Muslims were killed.

A number of high court judges including justices Akil Kureshi, MR Shah, KS Jhaveri, GB Shah, Sonia Gokani and RH Shukla recused themselves from the case during the hearing on appeals.

Five years after the riots, she was made the Minister for Woman and Child Development by then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. She held the ministry till her arrest in 2009.

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