Naroda Patiya: 28 yrs jail for Maya Kodnani, Bajrangi gets life term till death

Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi

A special court on Friday pronounced the quantum of punishment for 32 convicts in the 2002 post-Godhra Naroda Patiya riots case in Ahmedabad. BJP’s senior MLA Maya Kodnani awarded 18 years of imprisonment while Babu Bajrangi got life imprisonment till death by the special trial court in Naroda Patiya massacre case of 2002 riots.

BJP MLA and former minister in the Narendra Modi government Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi are among the 32 people convicted by a special court in the Naroda Patiya riots case on Wednesday, in which, 97 people belonging to the minority community were killed.

Special court judge Jyotsana Yagnik had on Wednesday convicted them on charges of conspiracy and murder in the case, even as 29 other accused were acquitted. Kodnani, a three-time MLA from Naroda area, who was considered to be close to chief minister Narendra Modi, is the first woman and first MLA to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case.
Kodnani and Bajrangi were held guilty under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC and the prosecution sought the maximum punishment of death sentence for all the convicts.
On Wednesday, during the arguments on the quantum of sentence, lawyers of Kodnani and other convicts had sought leniency from the court.

Among the 2002 riots cases probed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), in which rulings have come, Naroda is the only case, where convicts (32) outnumber those acquitted (29).

In the Godhra train carnage case, court had convicted 31 and acquitted 63. In Sardarpura case, court had convicted 31 and acquitted 42, while in Dipda Darwaja case 22 had been convicted and 61 acquitted.

The conviction of three-time BJP MLA and former minister Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Patiya massacre
The conviction of three-time BJP MLA and former minister Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Patiya massacre – the worst of the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2002 – has delivered a serious blow to the Narendra Modi government and the state unit of the BJP.
Modi and the Gujarat BJP had repeatedly claimed that the riots were “a spontaneous reaction to the Godhra train carnage and the state government and ruling party had nothing to do with it”.
Kodnani, a BJP MLA since 1998 and Ahmedabad BJP president after the riots, has not only been convicted for rioting and murder, but also for criminal conspiracy.
This suggests that she was part of a conspiracy hatched by powerful persons connected with the ruling dispensation to target the minority community in the wake of train carnage near the Godhra railway station.

Just three months before the Gujarat assembly polls due to be held in December, the verdict has once again raised a question mark on the credibility of the Modi government, which benefited immensely from the communal polarization that took place in the state after the riots in 2002.

Several state BJP leaders refused to comment on the implications of the verdict, but a senior party MP said, “This verdict will hit Modi’s credibility very badly at a time when he is trying to play a larger role at the national level. In a communally sensitive state like Gujarat it might not affect Modi electorally, but nationally, it will increase his untouchability.”
A senior Gujarat government official said, “Even if Modi tries to draw benefits from further polarisation during the run-up to the assembly polls, he may get short term gains in Gujarat but will harm his national interests.”

The MP pointed out that about 200 people have been convicted in post-Godhra riot cases – most of them being sentenced to life imprisonment.

“This will again reinforce the communal tag that he carries and therefore his efforts to woo the minority community will take a beating. His Sadbhavna campaign also stands exposed,” he said.


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