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Naroda Patiya case: Togadia, BJP welcome Maya Kodnani's acquittal; updates

While Kodnani was acquitted, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi's sentence in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case was upheld by the Gujarat High Court

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

A file photo of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Maya Kodnani who was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case
A file photo of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Maya Kodnani who was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case. Photo: PTI

The on Friday acquitted former minister Maya Kodnani but upheld the conviction of former leader in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case in which 97 people were killed by a mob. The high court upheld conviction of 13 people including Bajrangi, and convicted another three for the first time, while acquitting 18 of the 32 people convicted by the trial court in 2012.

In 2002, Kodnani was a MLA and the trial court had said she was the "kingpin" of the Naroda Patiya killings, one of the worst incidents of violence during the Gujarat riots, and sentenced her to 28 years in Kodnani went on to become a minister in then Narendra Modi government in Gujarat in 2007, before resigning when she was arrested in the case in March 2009.

Acquitting her, the high court said the statements made by witnesses regarding her role were contradictory. No prosecution witness mentioned that she talked to them at the relevant time, the high court noted. The high court said it finds it "hazardous" to rely on contradictory statements of witnesses, and therefore, no testimony of witnesses regarding Kodnani was accepted. 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. Kodnani was also given the benefit of doubt as she was made an accused for the first time in 2008 by the (SIT), while her name did not figure in the original FIR, the high court said.

Around 58 people lost their lives when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was allegedly torched at the Railway Station on February 27, 2002. Following the incident, on February 28, the and had declared a A total of 97 people were killed by rioters in Ahmedabad's Naroda Patiya area on this day.

Here are the top ten developments around the Gujarat High Court's 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case verdict given today:

1) BJP, Togadia welcome Naroda verdict:
Former VHP leader Pravin Togadia said he was delighted, and the state must not challenge the acquittals. The firebrand Hindutva leader said the state government should not challenge the acquittal of Kodnani and others in the Supreme Court. "Hindu Advocate Forum" will provide legal help to Bajrangi and others, he said. "I express delight that Maya-ben and others have been acquitted. I would also demand that the government should not go to the Supreme Court to challenge the acquittals. Bajrangi and others who have been convicted should move the SC and we will arrange free legal aid for them. I would also ask the Gujarat government to go easy on their appeals," he said.


If acquitted ones are innocent, did we kill our children, asks 2002 Naroda Patiya riot victim: "Eight members of our family were killed before our eyes. If they are innocent, did we kill our children? Maya Kodnani has been declared innocent, two years later will be acquitted," the victim told media.

The acquitted former (BJP) minister Maya Kodnani in the case.

2) Did we kill our children, asks 2002 Naroda Patiya riot victim: "Eight members of our family were killed before our eyes. If they are innocent, did we kill our children? Maya Kodnani has been declared innocent, two years later will be acquitted," the victim told media.

The acquitted former (BJP) minister Maya Kodnani in the case.

ALSO READ: If acquitted ones are innocent, did we kill our children, asks 2002 Naroda Patiya riot victim

3) Maya Kodnani acquitted in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case: The Gujarat High Court acquitted former minister Maya Kodnani in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, in which 97 Muslims were killed following the riots. Kodnani had been sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment.

Kodnani had been currently out on bail. In 2012, the trial court had held that she was the mastermind of the violence in Naroda area.

4) Babu Bajrangi's sentence upheld: leader Babu Bajrangi's sentence in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case was upheld by the Gujarat High Court. Bajrangi had also moved the court challenging the previous ruling. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment until death.

ALSO READ: 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case: Gujarat HC acquits Maya Kodnani

5) Gujarat High Court acquits 17 out of 32 accused in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case: Out of the 32 convicts in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, the Gujarat High court on Friday acquitted 17 people, including Maya Kodnani, reported news agency ANI. The convictions of 12 were upheld by the court, including for Babu Bajrangi, the agency added. The verdict for two others was awaited at the time of reporting. One of the accused is dead.

6) 'Contradictory statements about Maya Kodnani's presence at Naroda Gam': The special public prosecutor in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, Prashant Desai, told news agencies that all 12 convicts have been awarded 21 years of imprisonment without remission. He added that 11 witnesses gave different statements on Maya Kodnani's presence at the Naroda Gam location and that there were contradictions.

SIT(Special Investigation Team) Public prosecutor Prashant Desai interacts with the media after the Verdict on Naroda Patiya massacare case outside the Gujarat High Court in Ahmedabad

SIT(Special Investigation Team) Public prosecutor Prashant Desai interacts with the media after the Verdict on Naroda Patiya massacare case outside the Gujarat High Court in Photo: PTI

7) Bench of Justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehiya gives verdict: A Division Bench of Justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehiya pronounced the verdict. In August 2012, a special court for cases had sentenced 32 people, including Kodnani, to life imprisonment.

ALSO READ: Naroda Gam: Defence says call records destroyed as part of conspiracy

8) Last year, had told the court Maya Kodnani wasn't in Naroda Gam: In September last year, BJP president had appeared before a special court in as a defence witness for Kodnani in the 2002 Naroda Gam riot case. Shah's deposition started before Judge P B Desai who had summoned him in response to an application filed by Kodnani. According to news agency ANI, had said, "Maya Kodnani was not present in Naroda Gam and that she was inside the state Assembly at 8.30 am." He had added that from 9:30 am to 9:45 am, he was at the Civil Hospital and he met Maya Kodnani there. The court had allowed Kodnani's plea to summon Shah and some others as witnesses in her defence in April last year.


ALSO READ: Naroda Gam case: Ex-cop Sharma seeks dismissal of arraignment plea

9) Kodnani claims she was at Sola Civil Hospital at the time of the riot: Kodnani had said that on the day of the Naroda Gam riot near Ahmedabad, she had visited the Sola Civil Hospital after attending the Legislative Assembly and was not present at the spot where the violence took place. Amit Shah, then an MLA, was also present at Sola Civil Hospital where bodies of the karsevaks killed in the Sabarmati Train burning incident were brought from Shah's testimony was meant to help prove her 'alibi' that she was present elsewhere when the crime took place, she had said. Kodnani, who was an MLA in 2002, was made a junior minister in Chief Minister Narendra Modi's government in 2007.

ALSO READ: Naroda Gam riot case: Court issues notice to ex-IPS officer

10) Here is a brief chronology of the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case: In August 2012, a special court for cases had sentenced 32 people, including former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, to life imprisonment. Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment. The other high-profile accused, former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, was given life imprisonment until death.

While seven accused had been given enhanced life imprisonment of 21 years, which they were to serve after undergoing 10 years' imprisonment under IPC section 326 (causing grievous hurt), the remaining accused had been given simple life imprisonment (14 years). The trial court had also acquitted 29 others accused for lack of evidence. While the convicts had challenged the lower court's order in the high court, the SIT appealed against the acquittal of 29 people.

During the course of the hearing, the high court judges had visited the site of the incident in Naroda Patiya area in -- where 97 people from the Muslim community had been killed -- to understand its topography.

ALSO READ: Judge hearing 2002 Naroda Gam riots case retires

High Court judges had recused themselves for the case: A number of high court judges, including justices Akil Kureshi, M R Shah, K S Jhaveri, G B Shah, Sonia Gokani, and R H Shukla, had recused themselves from the case during the hearing on appeals.

Naroda Patiya riot left 97 dead: The Naroda Patiya riot was one of the worst incidents that followed the incident of February 27, 2002, in which 59 were killed. Around 58 people lost their lives when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was allegedly torched at the Godhra Railway Station on February 27, 2002. Following the incident, on February 28, the and Bajrang Dal had declared a A total of 97 people were killed by rioters in Ahmedabad's Naroda Patiya area on this day.

Naroda Gam was one of the nine major 2002 communal riot cases that was investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.


With agency inputs

First Published: Fri, April 20 2018. 20:55 IST
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