Social activists and kith and kin of the victims of the 2002 Gujarat communal riots on Wednesday hailed the verdict of convicting the key accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre.
Reacting to the verdict, social activists, who had gathered at the court complex, recalled that they had been striving to give justice to the relatives and kin of the victims, and they expressed their satisfaction although the quantum of sentence is yet to be pronounced.
"The Narod Patiya judgement was one of the most crucial judgements in the history of the Gujarat genocide. And now finally we have the conspirators Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and Sohan, who have been convicted and 32 others. I think it is a great verdict. We would like many more to be convicted but let us hope that truth and justice will finally prevail in the state of Gujarat," said Rev. Fr. Cedric Prakash, a social activist.
Meanwhile, social activist and advocate Teesta Setalvad, who has actively crusaded for justice in the 2002 riots cases said that she would file a revision appeal in the judgement if they feel certain guilty persons have been let scot-free.
"Since the verdict has come out today itself, we will have to study it. We thought that the case stood strongly against about 45 people. If we still think so after reading the judgement then we shall appeal again. But today we want to say that we are relieved. After so much of hard work and threats, till last night our victims were receiving threats. They reside in the same area of Naroda Patiya and did not leave, and they got justice. This is a major achievement in our quest for justice," Setalvad added.
The kith and kin of the victims also expressed their satisfaction over the verdict and stated that guilty deserved to be punished severely.
"We knew that they were guilty and we wanted God to punish them for what they did. We want nothing else but punishment for them. We had waited for ten years for this day and our hopes were finally rewarded," said Jannat Bibi, a relative of Naroda Patiya riots victim.
A trial court in Ahmedabad earlier in the day convicted 32 people and acquitted 29 others in the Naroda Patiya massacre case which took place during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Naroda, Maya Kodnani, and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, too, have been convicted in the case.
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)