A file image shows burning and protests during the Gujarat riots of 2002. – Dawn file photo
A file image shows burning and protests during the Gujarat riots of 2002. – Dawn file photo

AHMEDEBAD: A former Indian state minister was sentenced to 28 years in jail on Friday for murder and conspiracy during one of the country’s worst religious riots, when up to 2,500 people, most of them Muslim, were hunted down and hacked, beaten or burnt to death in 2002.

Maya Kodnani – a sitting lawmaker from the state’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat minister for women and child development between 2007 and 2009 – was the highest-profile conviction to date in connection with the riots.

The state prosecutor had called for all 32 convicted to face the death penalty, even though India rarely carries out the sentence. All 32 were sentenced to jail, for terms ranging from 14 years to life.

Kodnani’s conviction is an embarrassment for both the BJP and Gujarat’s high-flying chief minister, Narendra Modi, who is lauded by foreign companies for his business-friendly polices and is often touted as the country’s next prime minister.

Hundreds of friends and relatives of the 32 people found guilty gathered outside a court in Ahmedebad to hear the sentences, the final step in a years-long case that cast a spotlight on still simmering communal tension in the world’s biggest democracy.

Most relatives of the victims of the riots in Gujarat state stayed away from the court – a sign that even 10 years later memories of the bloodletting by Hindu mobs still cast a pall of fear over the state’s Muslim community.

There were unconfirmed reports that some Muslim shopkeepers had shut their establishments and families had fled the city, fearing retaliatory attacks over the sentences.


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Comments (34) Closed




Afzal
Aug 31, 2012 02:34pm
Pakistan is for Muslims only. India is for everyone. No other country in the world is really as secular as India is. Yes, I have included the whole western world when I say this.
Quader Mahmud
Aug 31, 2012 10:04pm
The latest tragedy of riots took place in Gujrat, the state where both Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India, and Quaid-e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, were born. Their failure to grasp and solve religious fanaticism continues to haunt both Muslims and Hindus (also Sikhs). Unless humanity is placed above everything else, such killings will continue. Boitalik, England
talogic
Aug 31, 2012 12:44pm
This is simply epic. A judgement worthy of praise; hope this acts as a deterrent for future clashes of similar nature and magnitude.
Mohammad Ahmad Khan
Aug 31, 2012 03:11pm
I hope Pakistani people n Pakistani court will definitely take a lesson from verdict of Indian court
Gautham
Aug 31, 2012 04:00pm
By the way, I keep reading from Pakistani and Indian commentators that Judiciary has 'shown' courage in sentencing the culprits. This is a wrong assessment. For one, Judiciary is not threatened by anyone , that they need to be courageous about. Second, they are doing their job and in this case, they have done correctly, albeit after a really long time. The point is that it is not judiciary who is taking some sort of stand against communalism. They are merely applying laws to situations. It is really the 'aam janta' of India who are against communalism and who are fed up with communalism. But as we have seen with Mumbai protests against Rohingya treatment in Bhutan, it can raise it's ugly head any time for any reason. The question is, how much destruction will it cause before it dies down. I suspect, it may not be much.
majid canada
Aug 31, 2012 07:22pm
Hats off to indian justice system.its never too late for pakistan to learn from this verdict.if this happens in pakistan the lives of citizens will improve and religion parties will think twise before they commit crimes against humanity.
Zubeir
Aug 31, 2012 01:13pm
I am impressed. It would never happen in my Country. Sad incidence in 2002 but very brave effort by Indian Judiciary.
Arshid
Aug 31, 2012 06:07pm
Pakistani establishment including law enforcement agencies and Judiciary, needs to follow the Indian example. Well done India.
discoversanket
Aug 31, 2012 01:29pm
When comments are made about India been unfair to Muslims - please bear this day in mind. Thats all I am asking. Thank you DAWN for reporting this.
Pitambar
Aug 31, 2012 03:01pm
This riot was started by muslims mob , who burnt down, 66 women and children alive in train.. and the riot started in retaliation...
Concerned Netizen
Aug 31, 2012 12:56pm
Will something similar ever happen in Pakistan? Will we ever care about the minorities being killed by the Muslims here? Will they ever get justice?
Ahmed Khan
Aug 31, 2012 10:53pm
I am an Ex-Pakistani. My hats off to the Indian courts for dispensing justice in a fair and just manner. Pakistani courts and judges should take note. Well done, India!
Pankaj Patel(USA)
Aug 31, 2012 08:58pm
Thanks Down for being impartial in a country where people are judged by their faith.Most of the time in Pakistan we only hear about atrocity committed on Muslims any where in the world especially in India.They prefer to ignore other side and spread hate in Pakistan against minorities.
Muzaffar Qureshi
Aug 31, 2012 02:51pm
Bravo Indian Judiciary! I hope the verdict will act as a detere,t and India will turn into a civilized society for its own good. This also reminds me of renowned poet, Kaifi Azmi's poem on the subject.
Javed
Sep 01, 2012 06:52am
India....I am proud of you....wish I could be an Indian.
indian
Aug 31, 2012 04:19pm
most of pakistani think that india is a hindu country but India is not a Hindu country it is a secular democratic country and i feel proud of this....today's decision is good and pakistan should learn from this india makes by indians it is our culture and it is our power.
anony
Aug 31, 2012 04:11pm
Totally agree.
anony
Aug 31, 2012 04:10pm
Absolutely agree. The Indian judiciary should be applauded for this. I hope such justice happens in Pakistan as well.
anony
Aug 31, 2012 04:10pm
I'm not surprised that your comments come when such a sentence 'HAS' been passed. If it didn't, you would have been silent as always.
Mustafa
Aug 31, 2012 06:37pm
Very late but good to know that partial justice is served. What about the mastermind: narindra modi? Scotch free? No way. What happend to the culprits involved in destruction of Babree Masjid?
Sumit Mazumdar
Aug 31, 2012 03:06pm
It feels good to be an Indian sometimes! Beyond the Indian justice system, much credit goes to Teesta Seetalabad and her husband Javed Anand and their organization that promotes communal harmony. They stayed with the fight for 10 years. We should also be proud of the brave witnesses who did not budge in spite of threats against their lives and large sums of money that were apparently offered to make them change their statements.
Neeraj
Aug 31, 2012 09:16pm
I concur
qamaruddin Ahmed Siddiqi
Aug 31, 2012 04:28pm
A historic decision which goes to prove that even in this day and age there are still fair-minded people on whom we can trust.Well done Indian judiciary.Bless you all.
neha
Sep 01, 2012 03:53am
It shows that religion never interrupt in Indian Judicial System.....I am proud to be an Indian.
Satish Raina
Sep 01, 2012 12:03am
Sympathies with you Zubeir. Unfortunately, your country cannot tolerate even an eleven-year mentally unbalanced non-Muslim child; leave aside living in harmony with millions of minorities. I must hasten to mention, DAWN is a huge beacon of light and hope in Pakistan that provides opportunities for people like you and even me (an Indian) to express our thoughts.
HINDU
Aug 31, 2012 01:31pm
great judgment by court maintains the dignity of secular India.
Deepu
Aug 31, 2012 12:17pm
Justice Delivered..!! hail indian justice system
Shahed
Aug 31, 2012 02:42pm
We look across the border for all sorts of reasons - I hope we also look at the supremacy of law and its execution there.
Tahir Malik
Sep 01, 2012 03:55am
i am a Pakistani muslim and am proud of Indian secular govt and its Judiciary.. This should set an example of how courts should be blind so all humanity can feel safe.
Hemant
Aug 31, 2012 11:40am
Great week for Indian judicial system . Ajmal Kasab's conviction up held by Supreme Court . Powerful leaders Maya Kodanani and Babu Bajrangi convicted by trial court . Deep regret Master Minds in both instances still free . Deeply believe they will be held accountable .
true
Aug 31, 2012 01:49pm
Good example. Can Pakistani court sentence people involved in sectarian violence.
Ashok Pandey
Aug 31, 2012 11:57am
Good news..and I hail the decision of the judiciary..It definitely cant bring back the lost ones .. but a symbol that judiciary is above the govt...and issue brough to justice
Arshad masood
Sep 01, 2012 02:24am
Not enough the man responsible the chief minister of Gujarat is still free and in politics
sanjay
Sep 01, 2012 12:30am
for 10 years I could not face my Muslim friends in India. With time passing my arguments were becoming more and more hollow. Yesterday night I slept peacefully. I am sure more judgments will follow and more convictions will happen with strict punishments. I do not want any of these culprits to be hanged. They should rot in Jail and wait for death like those who have waited for justice to their beloved died.