Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Verdict in Naroda Patiya massacre deferred

A designated court in Ahmedabad on Saturday deferred to August 29 the
pronouncement of judgement in the Naroda Patiya communal riot case of
2002, in which a former Bharatiya Janata Party minister is one of the
61 accused.
Special Judge Jyotsna Yagnik, who had earlier given a tentative date
of June 30 for delivering the much-awaited judgment put off the
verdict by two months without assigning any reason.
The 61 accused include former minister in the Narendra Modi government
and Naroda Member of Legislative Assembly Maya Kodnani, former Vishwa
Hindu Parishad leader Babu Bajrangi, local Bharatiya Janata Party
leaders Bipin Panchal, Kishan Korani, Ashok Sindhi and Raju Chaumal.
The incident had occurred on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra
train burning incident, during a bandh called by the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad. A mob carrying lethal weapons, led by Kodnani and others,
had gathered at Naroda Patiya and killed 97 persons. Thirty three
others were wounded in one of the most brutal post-Godhra riots.
The trial began in August 2009 and charges were framed against 62
accused. However, one of them -- Vijay Shetty -- died during the
As many as 327 people including eye witnesses, victims, doctors,
police, government officials, forensic experts and journalists like
Ashish Khetan, who conducted a TV sting operation on the accused, were
examined by the court.
Initially, after the incident, 46 people were arrested by the Gujarat
police. After the probe was handed over to the Supreme Court-appointed
Special Investigation Team in 2008, the agency arrested 24 more
However, before the charges could be framed or trial could start, six
persons died, while two others -- Mohan Nepali and Tejas Pathak --
jumped bail and are still absconding.
The case was investigated by eight investigating officers over the
past decade, the latest being Himanshu Shukla of the SIT.
All accused have been charged under sections 302 (murder), 307
(attempt to murder), 323, 324, 325 (causing grievous hurt with deadly
weapons), 367 (kidnapping in order to cause grievous hurt) of IPC.
The case is one of nine probed by the SIT including the Godhra train
burning case.
Other SIT cases in which judgments have been delivered inlcude the Ode
village massacre of 23 people in Anand in which 18 accused were
sentenced to life imprisonment and five others to 7 years in prison.
Last year, a special court had awarded death sentence to 11 and life
imprisonment to 20 in the Godhra train burning case where 59 persons,
mostly karsevaks, were burnt alive in S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express.
Thirty one accused were sentenced to life imprisonment by another
designated court of Mehsana district in Sardarpura riot case where 33
people were killed during post-Godhra riots.