A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on Friday acquitted former Bharatiya Janata Party Minister Maya Kodnani while upholding the conviction of Bajrangi Dal activist Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya massacre case of 2002.
Kodnani was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court for inciting a mob post the Godhra train carnage in 2002. The court found Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi guilty and upheld his conviction.
The incident occurred on February 28, 2002, a day after a coach of the Sabarmati Express train was set on fire at the Godhra railway station leaving 59 Hindus dead.
An SIT had earlier found that at around 9:30 am on the day of the massacre, February 28, 2002, “Dr Maya Kodnani, the MLA of the said area, after completing the mourn meeting in the Vidhan Sabha came near Noorani Masjid and as per the evidence on record she made some speech and said “Kill Muslims, destroy the property of Muslims.”
Naroda Gam is close to Naroda Patiya where 97 Muslims were killed on the same day in which Kodnani was convicted in 2012 for life imprisonment.
The Naroda Patiya incident is considered the worst massacre in the 2002 Gujarat riots. In the single, bloody incident, thousands of people swarmed the locality and murdered them in cold blood.
At least 11 witnesses had said that Maya was present at the incident. However, they turned hostile later.
The convicts in the Naroda Patiya case had challenged the lower court’s order, while a Special Investigation Team had filed a plea against their acquittals.
Maya, who is out on bail, has claimed that she was not at the scene of the violence.
In September last year, BJP President Amit Shah appeared before a special Sessions Court and said that Maya Kodnani was with him when the crime took place.
With IANS inputs