Naroda Patiya case: Maya Kodnani acquitted

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Maya Kodnani

High Court in Gujarat on Friday overturned the decision of a former state minister who was sentenced 28 years in jail for her part in the murder of 97 people in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Maya Kodnani was among 32 convicts who had appealed to the state’s high court in Gujarat against their sentences six years ago.

30 others received life sentences for their part in the riots.

The court, however, upheld the sentence of Babu Bajrangi, a former leader of the right-wing Hindu group Bajrang Dal, who was condemned to stay in jail until he dies.

The court had acquitted Ms. Kodnani on the benefit of a doubt, as there were no police witnesses who confirmed the charge that she had provoked a Hindu mob. They also said that she had been named as an accused later.

The riots left more than 1000 people dead. It began after 60 Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire blamed on Muslims in the town of Godhra.

Ms. Kodnani was not a minister at the time of the riots but was appointed Junior minister for women and child development by Narendra Modi who was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time. She was a close aide to Mr. Modi.

She quit her post after the police arrested her in 2009 in connection with the massacre but remained a member of the state assembly.

Reporters told her conviction was an embarrassment for Mr. Modi who raised her to ministerial office in 2007 despite being aware that her role in the riots was being investigated.

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