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TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Ahmedabad: Their bragging before camera during the 2007 sting operation nailed the accused in the Naroda Patia massacre, which saw 97 persons killed. The extra-judicial confessions by three accused – Babu Bajrangi, Prakash Rathod and Suresh Langado — did not prove crucial as they proved to be vital piece of evidence for the court to reach to the conclusion that a criminal conspiracy was hatched under the leadership of former minister Maya Kodnani.
Believing the footage of sting operation, which had passed close scrutiny of the CBI and court through various FSL tests, special judge Jyotsana Yagnik held, “The extra-judicial confessions have been held to be truthful, voluntary and a genuine confession. It is held to be admissible and relevant, free from every doubt and is safe to act upon.”The court has also considered this extra-judicial confession as corroborating evidence against other accused. In this manner, roles played by Naresh Chhara, Dhanrao Sindhi, Kishan Korani, Kodnani, Manoj Kukrani, Bipin Panchal and Dinesh Barge also came into scrutiny. The court used the sting operation as evidence against all these. Except Sindhi, all others have been convicted.
The court said, “It is not likely that the maker of the confessional statement would implicate himself untruly. This is not a weak type of evidence against the maker himself… The extra-judicial confession is held to have been proved voluntary, free from every doubt and it passes test of credibility thoroughly. As such, no corroboration is required to the extrajudicial confession of the kind, but there are ample corroborations available from the record of the case.”
This sting operation was conducted by journalist Ashish Khetan, who posed as a researcher and extracted facts from Bajrangi, Rathod and Langado. Bajrangi even spoke twice on camera about the incident implicating many more in the massacre. The footage of this sting operation was first verified by the CBI upon the Centre’s directions. Later, the Supreme Court-appointed SIT also got the evidence verified on court’s order.