Disappointed with verdict, Naroda Patiya riot victims to move Supreme Court
Victims of the communal massacre in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya in 2002 said on Friday they will appeal against the acquittal of former state minister Maya Kodnani of charges that she incited the rioters, calling the Gujarat high court’s decision “disappointing”.
Kodnani, 63, was given the benefit of the doubt by the high court that said the testimonies of witnesses were inconsistent.
The former women and child development minister was among 32 people convicted by a lower court for leading mobs into the predominantly Muslim neighbourhood on February 28, 2002, part of statewide attacks on Muslims in the aftermath of the deaths of Hindu pilgrims aboard the Sabarmati Express in Godhra the night before.
“This is a dark day. I had seen with my own eyes what happened there. If after saying all this (in the court) the court acquits those who were involved in killing the members of my family, then what kind of justice is this?” PTI quoted Shakeela Ansari as saying. Ansari saw eight members of her family murdered by the rioters.
“I had seen Maya Kodnani at a distance of just 25-30 metres. I am disappointed by the verdict. Maya-ben had come not once but twice to the area on the day of the incident. How can the court deny what we had seen from our own eyes,” said another victim, Salim Sheikh, whose house was damaged during the riots. He and Ansari deposed during the trial, according to PTI.
Advocate Shamshad Pathan, who represented riot victims, said an appeal will be filed in the Supreme Court. “The judgement is saddening for all those who had faith in judiciary and in Constitution for delivering justice,” he said.
“The Special Investigation Team did not probe the case properly. As far as Maya Kodnani is concerned, statements and evidence against (Bajrang Dal leader) Babu Bajrangi also apply to her. We will go through the judgement and challenge it before the Supreme Court,” he added.