Gujarat: Special court verdict in 2002 Naroda Gam riots case on April 20

A special court here in Gujarat on Saturday fixed April 20 for judgment in the 2002 Naroda Gam massacre of 11 members of a minority community during communal riots in which former BJP MLA Maya Kodnani and ex-Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi are among the accused.

The lawyer for Bajrangi and others said there were a total of 86 accused in the case but ten of them died during the pendency of the trial.

At least 11 persons were killed in riots in Naroda Gam area of Ahmedabad city during a bandh on February 28, 2002, a day after 58 passengers returning from Ayodhya were killed in the Godhra train burning incident.

The court of principal sessions judge S K Baxi has fixed April 20 as the date for the verdict in the case and directed the accused to remain present in the court.

The prosecution and the defence had examined 187 and 57 witnesses, respectively, during the trial that went on for nearly 13 years.

C K Shah, the lawyer for Bajrangi and other accused, said there were a total of 86 accused in the case, of which 10 had died during the pendency of the trial.

The accused persons faced trial for offences under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 129 (B) (criminal conspiracy), and 153 (provocation for riots), etc. of the Indian Penal Code, he said.

The maximum punishment for their crime is death.

Kodnani, who was then a minister in the Narendra Modi-led state government, was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail in the Naroda Patiya incident in which 97 people were massacred.

She was later discharged by the Gujarat High Court.

Apart from rioting and murder, Kodnani, 67, has also been charged with criminal conspiracy and attempted murder in the Naroda Gam case.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had appeared as a defence witness for Kodnani in September 2017 after she requested the court to summon him to support her alibi that she was present in the Legislative Assembly and later at Sola civil hospital when riots broke out at Naroda Gam.

The Naroda Gam massacre is one of the nine major 2002 communal riots cases investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and heard by designated courts.

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