Maya Kodnani acquitted in Naroda Patiya riot case

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While she had been given 28 years in prison, Babu Bajrangi had been given a life term.

It was in the year 2012 when a special court had sentenced 32 people to life imprisonment including Kodnani and Bajrangi. However, the HC today reduced his sentence to 21-year rigorous imprisonment without remission.

The remaining got simple life imprisonment (14 years).

Kodnani's acquittal, which was marked by several judges recusing themselves and a high-profile testimony in her favour by BJP president Amit Shah, is the second that has raised eyebrows in this week - on April 16, all accused, including Swami Aseemanand, were acquitted in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case, for "want of evidence". The court was hearing 11 petitions moved by the convicts and the families of the victims of the riots. Even, 97 people including 36 women and 35 children from Muslim community were killed Naroda Patiya area of Ahmedabad.

Kodnani was found guilty by the SIT court and had been sentenced to imprisonment for 28 years for inciting a mob to exact revenge for the deaths of kar sevaks killed in the Godhra train attacks in 2002. However, it acquitted former Bharatiya Janata Party minister Maya Kodnani, ANI reported. She was out on bail and had challenged the verdict in the high court.

The two-judge bench said Kodnani should be given the benefit of doubt in the case in which 97 were killed due to inconsistency in the statements of witnesses.

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Investigative journalist Rana Ayyub who had self published her months long sting operation exposing the inside information of Gujarat genocide of 2002, had brought forth the role of Maya Kodnani in her book Gujarat Files.

A SIT special court sentenced 32 people including Kodani, to a life imprisonment in August 2012. "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.

The HC, however, said that out of the 11 witnesses, none had named her when the riots case was being registered.

This was the first case probed and prosecuted by the SIT in which it did not demand the death penalty for the convicts in its appeals.

BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel welcomed the judgement. The trail court had held that Kodnani was the master mind behind the violence in Naroda.