Ahmedabad: A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on Friday acquitted Maya Kodnani, a minister in Narendra Modi’a cabinet when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, in the Naroda Patiya massacre case. Kodnani’s personal assistant, Kirpal Singh Chabda was also acquitted by the court.
Maya Kodnani and Kirpal Singh Chabda both were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court for inciting a mob to exact revenge for the deaths of kar sevaks killed in the Godhra train carnage in 2002.
The court however found Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi guilty and upheld his conviction. Suresh Langado alias Richard Chhara was also found guilty.
The division bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehia had reserved its order in August last year. The court heard a total of 11 appeal petitions. While all the convicts appealed against their convictions, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court sought enhancing sentences of three convicts, including former Bajrang Dal leader Babubhai Patel. It also appealed against the acquittal of seven accused. The family members of the victims had also appealed against the acquittal of 29 accused.
The Gujarat High Court’s verdict came a day after Supreme Court of India dismissed a number of petitions seeking probe into the death of Justice Loya. Justice Loya died mysteriously when he was hearing a case in which BJP President Amit Shah was an accused. A day before the Supreme Court ruling on Justice Loya’s death probe, a Special NIA Court had acquitted all the accused named for Mecca Masjid Blast case in Hyderabad.
Maya Kodnani, a gynaecologist, was sentenced to a life term in 2012 for her role in the riots in Naroda Patiya, a suburb of Ahmedabad, where about 97 Muslims were massacred in the single bloodiest episode of the three-day violence that followed the Godhra train burning of February 27, 2002.
A Special Investigation Team had said that a day after the Godhra incident, Maya Kodnani incited mobs and was seen at the spot by witnesses. A trial court had held that she organised the mass killings. Maya Kodnani is also accused of murder in the riots that took place on the same day, February 28, 2002, in nearby Naroda Gram, where 11 Muslims were killed.
Narendra Modi won the Gujarat elections held soon after the deadly anti-Muslim riots and Maya Kodnani was made the Minister for Woman and Child Development.
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