A special court awarded an enhanced life imprisonment of 28 years to Maya Kodnani, BJP MLA and former minister in the Narendra Modi government, and gave a life term till death to Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya massacre that left 97 people killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Additional principal judge Jyotsna Yagnik named Kodnani as “a kingpin of riots” in the Naroda area and sentenced her to 18-year life imprisonment after serving a 10-year term. A three-time MLA from Naroda, Kodnani is the first woman to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case.
Yagnik said 55-year-old Bajrangi, the other high-profile accused, would have to spend his entire remaining life behind bars.
The court also awarded enhanced life imprisonment of 31 years to seven others, while 22 people got simple life imprisonment of 14 years. The sentence against one person could not be pronounced as he was not present in the court.
Calling the incident a “black chapter in the history of the Constitution”, Yagnik noted, “The climax of this inhuman and brutal act of violence was reflected in the murder of a 20-day-old infant.” The court noted that Kodnani had “led the mob and incited them for riots”.
Rejecting the argument that the riots were a spontaneous reaction in the wake of the Godhra train carnage in which 59 people were charred to death by a Muslim mob, the court said, “This was a pre-planned conspiracy and cannot be mitigated by saying it was a reaction….”
It also ordered the Gujarat government to pay Rs. 5-lakh compensation to a victim of gangrape.