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 Above: Maya Kodnani (file picture)

Former BJP Minister Maya Kodnani was given clean chit by the Gujarat High Court on Friday (April 20) in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case.

The court acquitted Kodnani (she was sentenced to 28 years in prison earlier) giving her the benefit of the doubt, while upholding former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi’s conviction. Bajrangi was handed out imprisonment till death.

In August 2017, the division bench of justices Harsha Devani and AS Supehiya of Gujarat High Court had reserved the order.

The accused had challenged the Special Investigation Team (SIT) court’s order in the high court which had sentenced 32 people, including Kodnani, to life imprisonment in August 2012. Bajrangi had been given life imprisonment till death.

The SIT court had handed out enhanced life imprisonment to seven accused out of the 32 total accused while giving the remaining accused simple life imprisonment.

Naroda Patiya riots happened right after the incident of Godhra train burning on February 27, 2002, in which 59 kar sevaks lost their lives. The riots saw loss of lives of 97 people comprising mainly of women and children.

The SIT court had contended that Kodnani was spotted by witnesses inciting mobs at the Naroda Patiya. Witnesses have said that she was seen handing out swords and urging her people to go and murder, while she herself once fired a pistol in the air.

While Kodnani however had claimed that she was never involved in the activities as she was with former BJP home minister of Gujarat Amit Shah (now BJP President) in the assembly and thereafter had gone to her hospital where is practiced.

Kodnani is also accused in the Naroda Gram riots case in which 11 Muslims lost their lives. Kodnani was granted bail in 2014 on health grounds.

—India Legal Bureau

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