Naroda Patiya riots: BJP MLA Maya Kodnani sentenced to 28 yrs in jail, Babu Bajrangi life
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BJP MLA and former minister in the Narendra Modi government Maya Kodnani and 30 others were today sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court which described the Naroda Patiya massacre of 97 Muslims during the 2002 post-Godhra riots as "a black chapter in the history of Indian Constitution".
Additional Principal Judge Jyotsna Yagnik dubbed communal riots as "a cancer on constitutional secularism" and Kodnani the "kingpin" of the Naroda Patiya carnage and sentenced her to 18 years life imprisonment.
She will, however, have to serve 10 years in jail under section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of IPC before her life sentence gets underway, thereby effectively getting a 28-year imprisonment.
Another high-profile accused, Babu Bajrangi, the notorious leader of Bajrang Dal's moral police who was often caught on the wrong side of the law, will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Seven other accused have been given enhanced life imprisonment and they will have to first serve a 10-year term under section 326 before their life sentences begin.
22 others have been handed down simple life imprisonment of 14 years.
Coming in an election year, the verdict that has established for the first time involvement of a senior BJP leader in the post-Godhra conflagration, may have an adverse fallout on Modi's efforts to remove the taint of the communal riots.
"Communal riots are like cancer on constitutional secularism and incident that happened in Naroda Patiya was a black chapter in the history of the Indian constitution," the judge observed.
"Acts of communal violence was brutal, inhuman and shameful, it was a clear incident of human rights violation as 97 people were killed brutally within the day which included helpless women, children aged persons and the climax of this inhuman and brutal act of violence was reflected in murder of an infant who was 20 days old," the court said highlighting the enormity of the crime.