Naroda Patiya riot case: Gujarat High Court acquits Maya Kodnani

Maya Kodnani was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case on Friday

Yagnik said that Maya Kodnani has not been acquitted but she has been given "benefit of doubt".

BJP president Amit Shah had in September testified before the court in favour of Kodnani, stating that she was not present at the scene of the riot in Naroda Patiya.

The witnesses told the court that they saw her handing out swords to rioters, exhorting them to attack Muslims, and at one point firing a pistol. In all, the high court will decide on 31 appeals as one convict had died while the appeal was pending in the HC. "Gujarat High Court acquits Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi's conviction upheld" news agency ANI reported.

After the appeals were filed in the HC, this case became controversial after six judges - Justices Akil Kureshi, M R Shah, K S Jhaveri, G B Shah, Sonia Gokani and R H Shukla - recused themselves from hearing the appeals. He was the key conspirator in the massacre.

The High Court in August 2017 had reserved its order. This despite the Supreme Court SIT making a written submission how Kodnani was a kingpin of the 2002 anti-Muslim massacre, where more than 1200 people were killed.

The remaining accused were given simple life imprisonment of 14 years.

While the convicts challenged the lower courts order in the high court, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appealed against the acquittal of 29 people. "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.

"Twelve accused have been convicted".

"The sting operation by the Tehelka was not taken into account by the court". Kodani was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

"Whatever Babu Bajrangi did was no different from what the others did, so his conviction was on parity". There were contradictions in the witnesses' testimony against her presence at the crime scene.

The HC, however, said that out of the 11 witnesses, none had named her when the riots case was being registered. The bench said charges against Kodnani could not be established.

The official SIT statement said: "Dr Maya Kodnani, the MLA of the said area, after completing the mourn meeting in the Vidhan Sabha came near Noorani Masjid and as per the evidence on record she made some speech and said "kill Muslims, destroy the property of Muslims".

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