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Naroda Patiya riot case: Gujarat High Court likely to pronounce verdict

20 April 2018

The Gujarat HC today acquitted former minister and upheld the conviction of Bajrang Dal leader in connection with the 2002 massacre case.

The bench upheld the conviction of Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi, and Suresh Langado alias Richard Chhara was also found guilty.

A division bench of Justice Harsha Devani and Justice A S Supehiya had reserved the order last August after the hearing concluded. The High Court, while acquitting her giving her the benefit of doubt, upheld former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi's conviction but commuted his sentence from imprisonment till death to 21 years in prison.

The trial court also acquitted 29 other accused for want of evidence.

The 30-plus convicts in the case had challenged the SIT court's 2012 order in the high court.

The rioting took place on February 28, 2002, in the Naroda Patiaya area of Ahmedabad where a mob killed 97 people, a lot of them from a minority community.

Eleven Muslims were killed in the Naroda Gam area on February 28, 2002, a day after 59 kar sevaks returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya died in a fire inside a 3-tier coach of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra railway station.

But on Friday, the Gujarat High Court ruled that it wasn't entirely established that Kodnani was at Naroda Patiya, the site of one of the worst massacres in the three days of violence, prosecutor R.C. Kodekar said.

In 2012, Maya Kodnani, a gynaecologist, was sentenced to 28 years jail for her role in the Naroda Patiya massacre.

The remaining accused were given simple life imprisonment (14 years).

The SIT court had contended that Kodnani was spotted by witnesses inciting mobs at the Naroda Patiya. The witnesses had said that they had seen her exiting a auto at the site of the violence, surrounded by a mob.

Kodnani is now out on bail, while Bajrangi is still in jail.

While convicts file appeals against their conviction, the SIT filed petitions seeking enhanced punishment for some, while victims' kin appealed against acquittal of the 29.

Naroda Patiya riot case: Gujarat High Court likely to pronounce verdict