Ex-BJP minister Kodnani among 32 convicted in Naroda riots

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Ex-BJP minister Kodnani among 32 convicted in Naroda riots
Clean Media Correspondent

 Ahmedabad August 29 (CMC) Maya Kodnani, BJP MLA and a former minister in Narendra Modi government, and a Bajrang Dal leader were among the 32 people convicted today by a special court on charges of conspiracy and murder in the Naroda Patiya case in which 97 Muslims were burnt alive during 2002 Gujarat riots.

Kodnani, a three-time MLA from Naroda area who was considered to be close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is the first woman to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case.

She and Babu Bajrangi were held guilty under sections 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC and the prosecution sought the maximum punishment of death sentence for all the convicts.
The 57-year-old MLA broke down in court as Additional Principal Judge Jyotsna Yagnik read out her verdict in which she also acquitted 29 other accused.
The court, which heard arguments on the quantum of sentence, will decide on the punishment on August 31.

Kodnani and the other accused, who have been on bail, were taken into custody and shifted to Sabarmati Jail.

The Congress latched on to the verdict to target Modi with party leader Digvijay Singh saying that it “has been proved now that BJP’s minister and officials were involved in the Gujarat riots. Everything that happened was at the behest of Narendra Modi.”

Law Minister Salman Khurshid said that the judgement enhances faith of the people in the legal system.

While the BJP downplayed the conviction of its MLA saying it was legal process and it doesn’t do “politics on judicial verdicts”, the Gujarat government was quick to distance itself from Kodnani saying she was not a Minister when the riots took place and dismissed demand for Modi’s resignation.

“Congress demands CM’s resignation in everything, or attempts to link him with anything. If this is the barometer, then those who have been convicted in the past and are ministers in the central government should also resign,” Gujarat government spokesman Jaynarayan Vyas.

Kodnani was arrested in March 2009 when she was the minister following a probe by Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team and had to resign from the post.

She became an MLA for the first time in 1998 and won elections twice later from that constituency. She was made Minister of State for Women and Child Development in the Modi government in 2007, believed to be at the behest of L K Advani. She was the first Sindhi leader to become a minister in Gujarat since the state was founded in 1960.