Modi backers, baiters intensify crossfire

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THE Shiv Sena Saturday took on the Narendra Modi government, saying its decision to seek death penalty for Maya Kodnani was a "deadly attack on Hindus".

The Gujarat government had earlier this week said it would seek death penalty for the former BJP minister and nine others in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case.

"There is a feeling that Modi is a protector of Hindus. Seeking death penalty for Kodnani and (Babu) Bajrangi is a deadly attack on Hindus, who have different expectations from Modi," an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said.

"It has become a crime to be a Hindu in this country. We are sad that those launching deadly attacks on Hindus are Hindus," the editorial said.

In August last year, a trial court had sentenced Kodnani, once a close Modi aide, to 28 years in jail, while Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison. Eight others were awarded 31-year imprisonment, while 22 convicts got 24 years prison term.

As many as 97 people were killed in Naroda Patiya locality of Ahmedabad by a violent mob on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train carnage triggered communal riots in Gujarat .

The Gujarat government had earlier this week decided to file an appeal in the High Court, seeking death penalty for Kodnani and others, seven months after the sentence was pronounced, much beyond the stipulated period of three months.

"There can be no two opinions that criminals should be punished. However, when the court has already given a harsh sentence to Kodnani and Bajrangi, what does the Gujarat government want to show to the world by seeking the death penalty," the editorial said. "Godhra riots were a reaction to the burning of the Sabarmati Express."

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