Former minister and BJP leader, Maya Kodani who was sentenced to 28 years in prison for leading the biggest massacre of the 2002 Gujarat riots, was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court on Friday.
The court has however confirmed the life sentence of another high profile convict Babu Bajrangi, a leader of the Hindu right wing group Bajrang Dal, in the case.
In 2012, Maya Kodnani, a gynaecologist, was sentenced to jail for her role in the riots in Naroda Patiya, a suburb of Ahmedabad, where 100 Muslims were killed in the single bloodiest episode of the three-day violence that followed the Godhra train burning of February 27, 2002, in which 59 Hindu volunteers were killed.
A Special Investigation Team had said that a day after the Godhra incident, Maya Kodnani incited mobs and was seen at the spot by 11 witnesses. Witnesses had told the court that she handed out swords to rioters, exhorted them to attack Muslims and at one point fired a pistol.
A trial court had held that she organised the mass killings.
But the High Court noted that out of the 11 witnesses, none had named her when the riots case was being registered. Witnesses said they had seen Maya Kodnani coming out of her car to talk to the police. The court said “no criminal conspiracy could be established”.
During the riots, Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, was the chief minister of Gujarat.