Former Gujarat minister convicted in Naroda Patiya case

Ahmedabad, Aug 29: A trial court in Gujarat on Wedesday convicted 32 people and acquitted 29 others in the Naroda Patiya massacre case that took place during the 2002 riots. Two of the convicted include Naroda MLA and former state minister Maya Kodnani and former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi. Ninety-seven people were killed in Naroda Patiya massacre on February 28, 2002. Eighty-four of the victims were identified while three people went missing.

Kodnani, who thus became the first BJP leader to be convicted in a riot case, was the former minister for women and child development and resigned in 2009. She and Bajrangi were convicted under Indian Penal Code Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder). Under these sections, the minimum sentence is life term while the maximum is death.

The Naroda Patiya case, the single largest case of mass murder during the post-Godhra riots, was probed by a special invetsigation team appointed by the Supreme Court of India.

Initially, 46 people were arrested by the Gujarat Police while 24 people were apprehended after the probe was transferred to the SIT in 2008. Six people died before charges could be framed while two persons Mohan Nepali and Tejas Pathak jumped bail and are still absonding. Over 300 witnesses in various capacities were examined by the court before giving the verdict. The trial started in 2009. One of the accused, Vijay Shetty, died during the trial.

An eyewitness to the violence said the political leaders could have stopped it by using their influence but instead, they proviked the mob.

Social activist Teesta Setalvad termed the verdict as a landmark one, saying it was for the first time that political leaders have been convicted. The Gujarat government, meanwhile, distanced it from Kodnani following the verdict.

OneIndia News

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