Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani of the BJP and a Bajrang Dal leader, Babu Bajrangi, are among 32 people who have been convicted by a special court almost a decade after 95 people were killed in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya in one of the worst incidents of mob violence in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
What the court said:
Kodnani and Bajrangi have been charged with murder under section 302 and criminal conspiracy under section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Under this section, the minimum sentence is of life term and the maximum is death.
The special court in Ahmedabad has also let off 29 others accused in the Naroda Patya case.
Quantum of punishment to be pronounced day after tomorrow.
Special Public prosecutor, Akhil Desai:
In this case, more than 90 persons have lost their lives. Most of them were children and women. Charge of conspiracy has been proved, so except death penalty there is no hope.
For all the 32 accused, I have argued for death penatly or life imprisonment. The accused cannot be pardoned for such a crime. But life imprisonment may not extend only till 14 years, it may extend to full life. Maya Kodnani has been convicted of life imrisonment.
It was an attack on minority and the victims of were difficult to even identify. This is the rarest of rare case and the rarest punishment should be awarded.
Yatin Ozha, BJP leader and senior lawyer:
It is unfair that the entire Gujarat unit of the BJP is being questioned for the conviction of one leader.
We are going to contest elections of the good governance of Mr Modi and the progress Gujarat has done in the last 10 years and not on issues like this conviction.
Social activist Teesta Setalvad:
It is important that Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani have been convicted. This is the first time that some judgement has implicated the political class. The testimony of the eyewitnesses helped in Kodnani’s conviction and phone calls proved that she was at the locality.
32 is a big number, I salute the kin of the victims of Naroda Patiya massacre. Truth has won.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari:
What about the culpability of the sate? The state was a helpless spectator. We have always said what happened in Gujarat was premeditated. State was a willful bystander as massacre played itself out.
We do not see political opportunities in a criminal culpability. This is about justice, this is about rule of law playing itself out. Criminal justice process must not be confused with trying to score political brownie points. There is absolutely no freedom of thought in Gujarat, even Jaswant Singh’s book was banned.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh:
It is clear the minister and the others acted at the behest of the then CM Narendra Modi. No ministers would be involved in such a crime unless they had the consent of the CM.
Salman Khurshid, Union Law Minister:
It is a big victory of Indian judiciary. The judgement on Naroda Patiya raises questions over morality issue. Judiciary deserves our admiration.