Another pillar of ‘saffron terror’ collapses as High Court acquits Maya Kodnani

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court has acquitted former minister of Gujarat Maya Kodnani who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in 2012 for 2002 riots case.

Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi’s conviction has been upheld. Other accused Suresh Langado alias Richard Chhara has also been found guilty. Kodnani’s personal assistant, Kirpal Singh Chabda, who was convicted by the trial court was also acquitted.

For Kodnani’s acquittal, the court did not find any criminal conspiracy in the riots and observed that none of the witnesses was reliable. In August 2012, a special court for SIT cases had sentenced 32 people, including Kodnani and Bajrangi to life imprisonment. While Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment, Bajrangi was awarded life imprisonment till death. The trial court had also acquitted 29 other accused, for want of evidence.

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Last year, in September, BJP President Amit Shah recorded his statement in the sessions court in Ahmedabad as we witness for Maya Kodnani. He told the court that Kodnani was inside the state Assembly at 8:30 am on 28th February as against in Naroda as she is accused of. A television footage available corroborated the claims.

There have been glaring loopholes in her conviction by Judge Yagnik. Despite video footage of her presence at Gujarat Assembly between 8:30 am to 8:40 am, witnesses for the prosecution had claimed Kodnani was leading a mob in Naroda at 8:30 am as well. As per another witness, Kodnani was distributing swords and other weapons, though at a later time that day.

In fact, in 2012, right after Kodnani’s conviction by a trial court, a Congress leaning journalist had even talked about Maya Kodnani’s helpful attitude towards Muslims. She claims her discussions with Kodnani prior to 2002 riots where she had no qualms in helping Muslims and even helped a distressed Muslim woman get a job.

Interestingly, all these witnesses have named Kodnani for the first time in 2008, six years after the riots took place. Some of the witnesses are also allegedly close to Teesta Setalvad, who has been accused of illegal exhumation of victim bodies and embezzling funds of trust created for helping the riot victims.

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