New Delhi, April 20: A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on Friday acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani in the Naroda-Patiya riot case. The court, however, upheld the conviction of former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi. The order was passed on the appeals moved by 32 convicts, including Kodnani, who were given life imprisonment for their role in the 2002 massacre that killed 97 Muslims, allegedly to avenge the death of 57 Hindus in the Sabarmati Express train-burning a day ago.
Apart from Kodnani, the court acquitted 16 others. Meanwhile, the conviction of 12 was upheld. While the verdict on two accused is still awaited, one accused has died since. Earlier, while Kodnani had been handed out a 28-year sentence, Babu Bajrangi was given life imprisonment till death by a trial court. The court had held Kodnani responsible for inciting a mob to violence in Naroda area.
- The case relates to the large-scale violence in the aftermath of the torching of Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002, which saw 57 Hindu kar sevaks dead.
- The next day, VHP and Bajrang Dal called for a bandh. However, crowds came out on the streets and a mob attacked Naroda-Patiya area.
- Hearing in the case began in 2009 with charges filed against 62. The court recorded statements of 327 people.
- In 2012, Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi were found guilty of murder and conspiracy to kill. Another 32 people were also convicted.
- The convicts challenged the special court order in the High Court.
- SIT appealed against the acquittal of 29 people.
- A Gujarat High Court bench recused itself from hearing the case, saying it had been approached by some of the accused.
- Kodnani moves HC to call Amit Shah as a witness.
- Two HC judges visited the riot site.
- HC reserved its order in 2017. Today, it acquitted 17, including Kodnani, while upholding the conviction of 12.