29 November, 2020

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28 Years Prison Sentence For Former Gujarat Minister For Her Role During The 2002 Gujarat Riots

By Gardiner Harris and Hari Kumar –

A top lieutenant of one India’s most powerful politicians was sentenced to 28 years in prison Friday for her role in a deadly attack that killed at least 94 people during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Mayaben Kodnani, a state legislator and former state education minister, was given a 28-year prison term after being convicted of murder, arson and conspiracy. The other 31 defendants were given decades-long prison terms, including one who must remain in prison for the rest of his life.

Former Gujarat minister and a member of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party Maya Kodnani, left, is led by police on her arrival at a special court in Ahmedabad, India, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. | Ajit Solanki/Associated Press

Ms. Kodnani was a confidant of Narendra Modi, Gujarat’s chief minister and a top contender to become the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for prime minister in national elections scheduled for 2014. Mr. Modi has long been plagued by accusations that he discouraged police from protecting Muslims during the riots, accusations he has denied.

Ms. Kodnani’s conviction and long prison sentence are a blow to Mr. Modi’s efforts to distance himself from responsibility for the deaths and could derail his campaign to lead the Bharatiya Janata Party. Since Muslims represent nearly 15 percent of India’s population, no political party can afford to alienate them entirely.

The judge in the case, Jyotsnaben Yagnik, said that Ms. Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi, a member of a Hindu hard-line organization, were the key conspirators in the massacre of mostly women and children in the Muslim neighborhood of Naroda Patia.

Akhil Desai, the prosecutor in the case, said that Judge Yagnik intended the long sentences to serve as a warning. “The judge observed that the riots were very brutal and the punishment should be such that such offenses should never occur again,” Mr. Desai said.

The Gujarat riots, which claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people, are the first in India’s history to be followed by significant prosecutions and convictions. Perhaps because of that response, there has been no communal violence on the scale of the Gujarat riots, although ethnic attacks in Assam in recent months have claimed at least 78 lives.

Courtesy New York Times

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Latest comments

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    I wonder why Congress party has not found even one fellow party men guilty of killing of Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira’s assassination?

    India has yet to prosecute those who were responsible for the killing of over 2700 Sikhs. Why is the double standard?

    When is India going to prosecute the rest of the powerful people who were behind the killing of innocent Muslims?

    Let us see if Ms. Kodnani would serve the full sentence? As a rule no politician is guilty of wrong doing in South Asia including the opposition ones.

  • 0
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    what about the massaker by sinhalist budist thugs, in 1983,

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    Thanks for colombo telegraph for publishing this story. This news items should be in every sri lankan newspaper.

    Has a single Sri Lankan minister who aided and abetted anti-Tamil or anti-Muslim riots been ever punished or sentenced?

    Instead we talk about how we are superior because we have better toilet fascilities for 20 odd million bottoms as opposed to a billion. Can we even imagine running such a government?

  • 0
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    Also in the LATEST COMMENT column.

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    This conviction is proof, despite many shortcomings in India, the judiciary is free and well above the influence of the fidgety fingers of politicians in power. The media is also fiercely indpendent and largely non-communal. Muslims in Gujarat – and indeed the rest of India- continue to have reason to feel they are safe wherever they are and can expect justice. These are features Lankan Tamils yearn for. Let us not forget both in Gujarat and in Godhra many hundreds of Hindus were massacred too.

    Senguttuvan

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    Senguttuvan says:

    “This conviction is proof, despite many shortcomings in India, the judiciary is free and well above the influence of the fidgety fingers of politicians in power.”

    I beg to differ.

    As you know due to political expediency many cases have not been investigated nor been brought to courts.

    In India about 18,000 of my cousins are being detained by the state over two years. No charges have been brought against them. Their only crime was to protest against land grab by the Politician/Corporation axis of evil.

    In Kashmir alone more than 8,000 people have disappeared.

    First we need to accept there is a huge problem of accountability in South Asia before a solution can be found.

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    Atrocity in Kashmir is swept under the carpet, for some strange reasons.

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