Babu Bajrangi, the Bajrang Dal leader convicted by a Gujarat court Wednesday in the massacre of 97 Muslims in the Naroda Patiya case, had been boastful of his role in inciting the riotous mob to kill, saying he felt he had "done something like Maharana Pratap".
In a sting operation by Tehelka in 2007, Bajrangi had boasted of how he had collected bombs and guns and mobilised a group to massacre the Muslims in the Ahmedabad locality on Feb 28, 2002.
His reason: anger over the burning to death of 59 kar sewaks in the Sabarmati Express at Godhra station on Feb 27.
"I could not bear what I saw… The next day, we gave them a fitting reply," he told Tehelka.
Asked by the Tehelka reporter if he was present during the killings, Bajrangi said: "Yes, yes, I was with them… So the Godhra incident happened and after what I saw, I just came back to Naroda and we took revenge."
Bajrangi took the mob through Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon, peopled mostly by Muslims. Most of those killed were either hacked or chased into a huge pit and set on fire.
"I came back after I killed them, called up the home minister and went to sleep… I felt like Rana Pratap, that I had done something like Maharana Pratap… I'd heard stories about him, but that day I myself did what he did."
Maharana Pratap was a 16th century Hindu Rajput ruler of Mewar in Rajasthan who fought against the Muslim invaders to protect his kingdom.
Bajrangi and former BJP minister Mayaben Kodnani are among the 32 people convicted in the massacre, one of the worst instances of mob killing during the 2002 riots in which 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.