Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, the prime accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre case, has been given a life sentence till death while former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani has been sent to prison for 28 years by special court in Ahmedabad on 31 August. Non-concurrent sentence of 10 years and 18 years in jail for Kodnani.
Earlier on 29 August, in a clear vindication of Tehelka’s 2007 investigation, the court had found Bajrangi and Kodnani along with 30 others guilty for their role in communal violence that spread in Naroda Patiya locality of Ahmedabad during Gujarat Riots of 2002.
The sting operation conducted by Tehelka’s Investigation Editor Ashish Khetan had exposed Bajrangi and Kodnani as the main conspirators in the case. (Ahmedabad: Carnage Capital )
Tehelka’s spy camera captured Bajrangi confessing that he saw the Godhra train burning, returned to Naroda, mobilised a team of 29-30 people on the night of 27 February itself and took revenge. (‘After Killing Them, I Felt Like Maharana Pratap’ )
Two members of the select team formed by Bajrangi, Suresh Richard and Prakash Rathod were recorded on Tehelka’s spycam saying that Kodnani drove around Naroda all day, urging the mob to hunt Muslism down and kill them.
Not only did Bajrangi recount hacking and setting on fire hundreds of Muslims but also said he enjoyed it and felt like Maharana Pratap after killing them. “I don’t care if I’m hanged… Give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura [a Muslim dominated area], where seven or eight lakh of these people stay… I will finish them off … Let a few more of them die… At least 25-50,000 should die…” he said.
The number of Muslims killed that day or the “score” as Bajrangi estimated the Muslim killings were well over 200. This figure however was not acknowledged by the state government whose official records maintain that 105 people were killed in Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon that day.
This verdict comes almost three years after the trial in this case began in 2009 after Supreme Court-appointed SIT carried out further investigations into the case. In this time, the court examined almost 327 witnesses, victims, police personnel, government officials and journalists including Khetan who carried out a TV sting operation on the accused in 2007.
Tehelka Investigations Editor Ashish Khetan’s sting investigation into the Gujarat riots played a crucial role in nailing Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya massacre. The Supreme Court appointed SIT submitted the Tehelka tapes as evidence in the trial court. Ashish Khetan deposed and was cross examined for 4 days. These are excerpts of some of the conversations caught on camera.
A local Bajrang Dal leader and one of the main conspirators talks about how he arranged for the mass killings. He is now a member of the Shiv Sena View >