Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Friday acquitted Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Maya Kodnani while upholding the conviction of Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the 2002 Gujarat riots case of Naroda Patiya. The High Court ruled that Kodnani had been cleared of all charges in the Naroda Patiya riots case along with Ganpat Chhara and Haresh Chhara.
At least 97 Muslims were massacred at Naroda Patiya following the burning of S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express at Godhra station on February 27, 2002 in which 58 Hindu kar sewaks were charred to death. The two-judge bench of justice Harsha Devani and justice AS Supehiya had concluded the hearing in August 2017 and reserved the order.
A special court for Special Investigation Team (SIT) cases had sentenced 32 people to life imprisonment in the Naroda Patiya riots cases in 2012. Maya Kodnani, who was the Naroda MLA and a minister in the BJP government of then chief minister Narendra Modi, was sentenced to 28 years in jail. She was the minister for women and child development of Gujarat but resigned in 2009.
Babu Bajrangi is serving life imprisonment and will remain in jail till death. Seven other accused were given enhanced life imprisonment of 21 years and the remaining were given simple life imprisonment for 14 years. Twenty-nine others were acquitted by the SIT court for lack of evidence over their alleged involvement in the riots.
All the convicts later filed a petition challenging their conviction by the SIT court in the Gujarat High Court.