Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Naroda Patia: Women in focus as judge, victims and accused

Not only are there three women accused, but a majority of the witnesses are also women; coincidently the case will be decided by a woman judge on Saturday

The Naroda Patia massacre will go down in history for being a rare case in which three women are accused of rioting and abetment to crime.
Besides BJP MLA Dr Maya Kodnani, two sisters face charges of providing help to the rioters in setting ablaze and killing Muslims in the narrow lanes of Naroda Patia. A total of 97 Muslims were brutally killed by a mob on February 28, 2002. It is also the sole case of the 2002 riots in which three women face rioting charges. The accused sisters are Geeta and Ramila Ratilal, residents of Naroda Patiya. 
According to the prosecution case, both were actively involved, along with their father Ratilal who is known as Jay Bhavani, in the dance of death and destruction.
Witnesses and survivors like Jannat Banu Kallubhai, Ishrat Jaha, Abdul Majid Usman Shiekh and others have identified Geeta and Ramila in their testimonies before designated judge Jyotsna Yagnik. 
According to the deposition of witnesses, Geeta and Ramila were part of the mob which went on a rampage in the chawls of Naroda Patia. The witnesses have said the two sisters provided the rioters bedsheets doused in kerosene which were used to set the victims ablaze including children. 
Along with the two women, their brother Mukesh Rathod is also an accused in the case. Both sisters have denied the charges. While talking to DNA, they said, “We actually provided them (victims) shelter and food during the mayhem.” (With inputs from Roxy Gagdekar)
Gaurang Vyas, assistant special prosecutor in the case, said, “There are three female accused in the case. The two sisters, Geeta and Ramila, face charges of abetment to murder by providing the accused bedsheets doused in kerosene. They have also been charged for the murder of three persons.” Counsel for the sisters, Niranjan Kikani, said, “The version of the witnesses is full of contradictions. Nobody has attributed their specific role in the incident. Therefore evidences against them are unbelievable.” Now the ball is in the court of Jyotsna Yagnik who will decide complicity of the three women in one of the most heinous riot cases in the history of Gujarat. Verdict in the Naroda Patiya case is on June 30.