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Gujarat riots: Verdict in Naroda Patiya massacre deferred

Last updated on: June 30, 2012 12:21 IST

Verdict in Naroda Patiya massacre deferred

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A designated court in Ahmedabad on Saturday deferred to August 29 the pronouncement of judgement in the Naroda Patiya communal riot case of 2002, in which a former Bharatiya Janata Party minister is one of the 61 accused.

Special Judge Jyotsna Yagnik, who had earlier given a tentative date of June 30 for delivering the much-awaited judgment put off the verdict by two months without assigning any reason.

The 61 accused include former minister in the Narendra Modi government and Naroda Member of Legislative Assembly Maya Kodnani, former Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Babu Bajrangi, local Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Bipin Panchal, Kishan Korani, Ashok Sindhi and Raju Chaumal.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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Verdict in Naroda Patiya massacre deferred

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The incident had occurred on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident, during a bandh called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. A mob carrying lethal weapons, led by Kodnani and others, had gathered at Naroda Patiya and killed 97 persons. Thirty three others were wounded in one of the most brutal post-Godhra riots.

The trial began in August 2009 and charges were framed against 62 accused. However, one of them -- Vijay Shetty -- died during the trial.

As many as 327 people including eye witnesses, victims, doctors, police, government officials, forensic experts and journalists like Ashish Khetan, who conducted a TV sting operation on the accused, were examined by the court.

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Image: Relatives of men charged with rioting try to stop a police vehicle carrying them
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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Verdict in Naroda Patiya massacre deferred

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Initially, after the incident, 46 people were arrested by the Gujarat police. After the probe was handed over to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team in 2008, the agency arrested 24 more persons.

However, before the charges could be framed or trial could start, six persons died, while two others -- Mohan Nepali and Tejas Pathak -- jumped bail and are still absconding.

The case was investigated by eight investigating officers over the past decade, the latest being Himanshu Shukla of the SIT.

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Image: A riot victim prepares for a meal outside a relief camp
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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Verdict in Naroda Patiya massacre deferred

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All accused have been charged under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 323, 324, 325 (causing grievous hurt with deadly weapons), 367 (kidnapping in order to cause grievous hurt) of IPC.

The case is one of nine probed by the SIT including the Godhra train burning case.

Other SIT cases in which judgments have been delivered inlcude the Ode village massacre of 23 people in Anand in which 18 accused were sentenced to life imprisonment and five others to 7 years in prison.

Last year, a special court had awarded death sentence to 11 and life imprisonment to 20 in the Godhra train burning case where 59 persons, mostly karsevaks, were burnt alive in S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express.

Thirty one accused were sentenced to life imprisonment by another designated court of Mehsana district in Sardarpura riot case where 33 people were killed during post-Godhra riots.

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Image: New-born babies at a relief camp
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters

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