VHP up in arms against Modi govt, opposes move to seek death penalty for Kodnani

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 17, 2013 18:50 hrs

Ahmedabad: Gujarat's VHP leadership is up in arms against Gujarat government's decision to seek death penalty for former state minister Maya Kodnani and nine others in connection with the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case.

"VHP strongly condemns the reported decision of the Gujarat government to seek death penalty for Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajarngi and other Hindus sentenced in the Naroda case," Gujarat VHP general secretary Ranchhod Bharwad told reporters here on Wednesday.

Calling the decision "shocking" and "a blow to Hindus", Bharwad has written to chief minister Narendra Modi urging him to withdraw the decision.

Recently, the Gujarat state legal department approved the recommendation of the Supreme Court appointed special investigation team (SIT) to file an appeal in the Gujarat high court, seeking enhancement of sentences to 10 convicts including former minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi.

It has also decided to demand 30 years' imprisonment for 22 other convicts who were awarded jail terms of 24 years by designated Judge Jyotsna Yagnik on August 31, 2012.

A prosecution panel of three advocates has been appointed to draft and argue the appeal, which will also seek conviction of seven accused, who were acquitted by the designated court.

"We are worried about the safety of Hindus in our nation, as everywhere they are being attacked or feeling unsafe. And in Gujarat, innocent Hindus have been subjected to injustice because they were socially and politically active," he alleged.

Maya Kodnani moves Gujarat High Court

Former state minister Maya Kodnani, sentenced to life in 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, has filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court seeking bail and suspension of sentence till her appeal is decided.

The petition, filed through advocate Hardik Dave, says that hearing on appeal may take long, so the sentence should be suspended.

It had been almost five months since her appeal was admitted by the High Court but hearing had not started. The prosecution was yet to file its appeal, and the hearing would take long to complete. The trial itself had taken ten years, it points out.

Petition also claims that she was not "a flight risk" as she was living in the city for many years with "deep roots in the society" and had been a gynaecology practitioner.

Last August, Judge Jyostna Yagnik sentenced Kodnani to 28 years in jail, while Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison. Eight others were awarded 31-year imprisonment, while 22 convicts got 24 years' prison term.

As many as 97 people were killed in Naroda Patiya locality of the city by a mob on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train carnage.

Recently, Gujarat state legal department approved the recommendation of the SIT to file an appeal in the High Court seeking death sentences for 10 convicts, including Kodnani and Bajrangi.

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