Maya Kodnani Acquitted in 2002 Gujarat Riots Case

New Delhi: The Gujarat high court on Friday acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Patiya massacre case. A trial court had earlier found her guilty of inciting a mob against Muslims after the Godhra train attack and sentenced her to life imprisonment.

Kodnani’s assistant Kirpal Singh Chabda was also acquitted. He had also been convicted by a trial court.

According to the Indian Express, the high court found that there was no criminal conspiracy in the riots, and that the 11 witnesses who testified against Kodnani were “unreliable”. The witnesses had said that they had seen her exiting a car at the site of the violence, surrounded by a mob.

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

Ninety-seven Muslims died in the Naroda Patiya massacre of February 28, 2002.

The court was hearing 11 appeal petitions moved by the convicts, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the families of the victims of the riots, Indian Express reported.
The division bench comprising Justices Harsha Devani and A.S. Supehia had reserved its order in the case in August last year.

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.”

While finding Kodnani guilty, a designated special court held in 2012 that she was one of the “principal conspirators” in the Naroda Patiya violence. “Accused 37 (Kodnani) has been proved to be the kingpin of the entire communal riot and one of the principal conspirators who has actively instigated the rioters and has abetted them to form unlawful assembly to execute the conspiracy hatched under her leadership with other co-conspirators,” the judgment said.

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