The Congress party on Friday acknowledged that the "wheels of justice" have finally turned, albeit slowly, in the Naroda Patiya case, adding that the larger question of fixing "political accountability" for the massacre needs to be addressed.
Speaking to mediapersons after the Supreme Court's verdict, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, "The answer to the bigger question has not come. It is about the political accountability. It was the responsibility of the government, the officers and leaders."
Earlier in the day, the apex court sent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Maya Kodnani to jail for 28 years, while Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi was sentenced to death for their role in the Naroda Patiya massacre that took place in 2002.
Kodnani will serve first ten years in jail for her conviction under Indian Penal Code Section 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), after which her life imprisonment under Section 302 (murder) and other sections, which is for 18 years, will begin.
While 31 convicts in the 2002 post-Godhra case have been awarded a life term, one of the absconding rioters will be sentenced on a later date.
Special Court Judge Jyotsana Yagnik had earlier convicted them on charges of conspiracy and murder in the case, even as 29 other accused were acquitted.
Kodnani, who is the first BJP leader to be convicted in a riot case, was the sitting MLA when the massacre in which 97 people were killed on February 28, 2002, took place.
Kodnani and Bajrangi have been convicted under Indian Penal Code Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 302 (murder).
The Naroda Patiya massacre is the largest single case of mass murder during the 2002 Gujarat riots that broke out following the Sabarmati Express train carnage near Godhra station.
The case has been probed by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT). (ANI)