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

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

The 61 accused in the case include former Minister in Narendra Modi Government and Naroda MLA Maya Kodnani, ex-VHP leader Babu Bajrangi, local BJP leaders Bipin Panchal, Kishan Korani, Ashok Sindhi and Raju Chaumal.

Riots in Gujarat

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 (VHP). A mob carrying lethal weapons led by Kodnani and others had gathered at Naroda Patiya in the city and killed 97 persons. 33 others were wounded in one of the most brutal post-Godhra riots.

Trial in Naroda Patiya riots case

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

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

Initially, after the incident, 46 persons were arrested by the Gujarat police. After the probe was handed over to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) 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.

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 judgements 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.

Godhra train burning case

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.

31 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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