Gujarat HC acquits Maya Kodnani, upholds Babu Bajrangi’s conviction


(Online Desk)

The Gujarat High Court today acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case and upheld the conviction of former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi.

A division bench of Justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehiya pronounced the verdict. The bench said charges against Kodnani could not be established.

Bajrangi, whose conviction was uhpeld by the court, was named one of the conspirators in the case.

In August 2012, a special court for SIT cases had sentenced 32 people, including Kodnani, to life imprisonment. In August 2012, 52-year-old Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment, while Bajrangi was given life imprisonment till death.

The high court had later reduced it to 21 years rigorous imprisonment.

Kodnani is currently out on bail, while Bajrangi is in jail.

The trial court had sentenced seven other accused to 31 years rigorous imprisonment, while 22 others were given 24 years in jail.

Twenty-nine others were acquitted in the case.

It was one of the nine major 2002 communal riots cases investigated by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Eleven Muslims were killed in the Naroda Patiya area (near the suburb of Naroda Gam) on February 28, 2002, a day after the Gujarat riots when 59 karsevaks returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya were killed in a fire inside a three-tier coach of the Sabarmati Express train near the Godhra railway station. A total of 82 people are facing trial in the case.

The riots had started in Naroda Gam area on the morning of February 28 and continued till late in the afternoon.

A total of 187 prosecution witnesses and 57 defence witnesses have been examined in the case till today.