Ahmedabad: A court in Ahmedabad will announce on the Friday the quantum of sentence to be served by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Maya Kodnani, who is among the 32 accused convicted in connection with the Naroda Patiya massacre case of 2002 Gujarat riots.
Both Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi were were held guilty of murder under Section 302, and of criminal conspiracy under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), for which the maximum sentence is the death penalty.
The verdict marked the first time that a former minister was convicted in a Gujarat riots case.
Defending itself, the Gujarat government on Wednesday said Kodnani was not a minister when the incident took place.
"Maya Kodnani was not a minister when the incident happened," said Gujarat government spokesperson Jai Narayan Vyas in Ahmedabad.
"We are not denying that she is an MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) from the party now. But an MLA is not a state government functionary," he said.
Vyas said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will not 'resign' due to the verdict given by the court.
Reacting on the verdict, the BJP said 'any riot' should be condemned.
"We feel any riot should be condemned," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said while addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.
"Do not want to politicise the judicial process," he said.
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said the conviction of 32 people, including Maya, in the Naroda Patiya massacre case of 2002 Gujarat riots showed the involvement of party leaders in the crime.
"I respect the judgement of the honourable court. Now it is clear that ministers and officials of the BJP were involved in Gujarat riots and they acted at the behest of the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi who is also the CM now," Singh told reporters.
He said: "Can any minister do this (take part in riots) without the support of the Chief Minister?"
He said the role of Modi in the Gujarat riot should be investigated.
Maya Kodnani is among the 32 accused convicted by a special court in Ahmedabad on Wednesday in connection with the Naroda Patiya massacre case of 2002 Gujarat riots.
The court also convicted Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the case.
Both Maya and Babu have been convicted under Sections 302 (murder) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), reports said.
The court acquitted 29 people.
At least 95 people belonging to a minority community were killed by a rioting mob that had attacked Naroda Patiya area on Feb 28, 2002.
The Gujarat Police first investigated the case before the Supreme Court in 2009 and appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe it.
The SIT had registered cases against Maya and several others in connection with the case.
She was also arrested in connection with the matter.
Three accused died during the trial.
The remaining 61 accused were tried for rioting, murder and arson.
Pertinently, most of the accused are currently out on bail.
The Naroda Patiya case is one of the worst massacre incidents that occurred during the infamous 2002 Gujarat riots.
The infamous Gujarat riots of 2002 left hundreds of Muslims dead, injured and tortured and came as a blot in the BJP rule in the state.
The riots followed an incident of train burning in Godhra in which Hindus returning from Ayodhya were killed by a Muslim mob.
Around 1,000 supporters of prime accused Maulvi Umarjihad attacked the coach at the Godhra station and torched it killing 59 people and injuring many.