Finally, The First Sign Of Justice

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TEHELKA: You were in touch only with Jaideepbhai?

Bajrangi: Only Jaideep was talking to me from the VHP.

TEHELKA: The day Muslims were killed…

Bajrangi: I spoke to Jaideepbhai 11 or 12 times… aur humne tabiyat se kaata… Haldighati bana di thi [we killed with gusto, we turned the place into Haldighati]… And I am proud of it, if I get another chance, I will kill even more.

TEHELKA: Where was Jaideepbhai camping then?

Bajrangi: Jaideepbhai was sitting at Dhanwantri, which is Pravinbhai’s dispensary, he was there… in Bapunagar… There he was and I didn’t even tell him that we were going to do this… In Naroda and Naroda Patiya, we didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire, we set them on fire and killed them…

SIT maintains the Tehelka exposé helped them question the right people

THE SIT had also earlier sought the help of TEHELKA videos to seek the remand of Valsad Deputy Superintendent of Police KG Erda before the Magisterial Court for allegedly giving a free hand to rioters during the Gulbarg Society massacre. The team later arrested Erda and other VHP and local BJP leaders. The SIT, which submitted its report to the Supreme Court last month, was headed by RK Raghavan and included members such as CD Satpathy, former Director- General of the UP police, and three IPS officers from Gujarat, Sivanand Jha, Ashish Bhatia and Geeta Johri. When asked, SIT officials maintain that the videotaped confessions by the accused in the TEHELKA exposé helped them in questioning the right people and using them as a reference while going through the evidence. While issuing its verdict in the Kodnani case, the Gujarat High Court cited the order issued by the Supreme Court when forming the SIT, which observed, “Communal harmony is the hallmark of democracy. If in the name of religion people are killed, that is absolutely a slur and blot on any society governed by the rule of law. Religious fanatics really do not belong to any religion. They are no better than terrorists who kill innocent people for no rhyme or reason.”

Bloodbath At least 106 Muslims were killed in Naroda Patiya. Kodnani provoked the massacre
Bloodbath At least 106 Muslims were killed in Naroda Patiya. Kodnani provoked the massacre
Photo: Paras Shah

Strong evidence against Kodnani came in the form of statements from almost 40 witnesses, including Nanumiya Malek who filed an affidavit before the apex court swearing that he had seen Maya Kodnani and Jaideep Patel leading the mob and instigating the rioters. The order also relied on Maya Kodnani’s phone records, which indicated that Kodnani was in the Naroda area for around 40 minutes on the morning of February 28, 2002, when riots were at their peak. Nanumiya, a resident of Naroda, was a BJP supporter before the riots. Life changed when he saw Kodnani, who he thought would save them, actually going around with a revolver in her hands, firing it and asking her followers to go after Muslims. Mukul Sinha, activist and an applicant in the case for the victims, hailed the judgement as a precedentsetting one and said that the order proved the riots were a pre-planned affair and not a spontaneous reaction to the Godhra killings. Sinha also felt that it was significant that the court took cognisance of affidavits which the defence had been dismissing as contradictory.