This Article is From Aug 31, 2012

Naroda Patiya riots: Former minister Maya Kodnani gets 28 years in jail

Ahmedabad: A court in Ahmedabad pronounced quantum of punishment for 32 convicts in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case today in a 1900-page verdict. For the first time, a former minister has been convicted and sent to jail in a Gujarat riots case. Maya Kodnani will serve 28 years in prison.

Here are the 10 latest developments in the story:

  1. In a packed courtroom, special judge Jyotsana Yagnik ruled that Ms Kodnani's sentence under various charges will not be served concurrently. She will first serve 10 years in jail under Section 326 of the Indian Penal Code for voluntarily causing grievous hurt and then will serve a life term of 18 years under charges like murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. (Read: Key excerpts from judgement)

  2. The judge described Ms Kodnani, who was the MLA from the Naroda area, as the "kingpin of entire riots" and observed that "she led the mob and incited them for violence. She abetted and supported the violent mob."

  3. Babu Bajrangi, a Bajrang Dal leader and a businessman, has also been sentenced to life imprisonment and the court has ordered that he will remain in prison all his life. Some years ago, Mr Bajrangi was purportedly caught on camera, in a sting operation, bragging about killing women and children in Naroda Patiya.

  4. Of the 30 others convicted in the case, seven have been given 31 years in prison and the rest of them, 24 years. Each serves 10 years first and then a life term. The prosecution had sought the maximum punishment of death sentence for all the convicts in the Naroda Patiya case.

  5. While awarding these sentences today, the court observed that, "Communal riots like these are a cancer to the constitution of secularism in the country. The severest of punishment will have to be given to prevent spread of such cancer in the society. There was a pre-planned conspiracy hatched by the accused to not only target the locality but also indulge in mass murder."

  6. The riots in Naroda Patiya, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad were the worst episode among the communal riots of Gujarat. On February 28, 2002, a mob armed with guns, bombs and machetes killed 97 Muslims in that locality. The right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had called a bandh to protest against the Godhra riots, which had taken place the previous day - a train was set on fire; most if its passengers were kar-sewaks (pilgrims) returning from a journey to Ayodhya; nearly 60 people were killed.

  7. Ms Kodnani, who won three state elections from the Naroda area, was considered to be close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi. She is the first woman and first MLA to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case. Ms Kodnani, who is a doctor, was the Minister for Women and Child Development between 2007 and 2009 when she was arrested by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

  8. Her conviction has left Mr Modi's government on the defensive. "At the time it (riots) took place, she was not a minister," said Gujarat Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas after the court's verdict convicting her on Wednesday. The investigation was handled originally by the Gujarat Police, but in 2009, the Supreme Court appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe ten cases, including the Naroda Patiya incident.

  9. Among the Gujarat riots cases investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the Naroda riots are the only case in which the convicts (32) outnumber those acquitted (29) .

  10. The Congress has used Ms Kodnani's conviction to target Mr Modi and the BJP. Congress' Digvijaya Singh had said, "It has been proved now that BJP's minister and officials were involved in the Gujarat riots. Everything that happened was at the behest of Narendra Modi."

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