ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Impunity Punctured

The Naroda Patiya Verdict

That there was a wider criminal conspiracy related to the Naroda Patiya incident now stands proved- Maya Kodnani, then a minister in the Narendra Modi-led government, has been convicted on serious charges. But will this verdict prove to be just a prelude to criminal conspiracy being established at a still higher level of the state's executive?

For criminal minds to craft acts beyond popular images of bestiality that are extreme even by our own Bollywood standards is rare, but it can happen. For these criminals to be track­ed down zealously and prosecuted is even more rare. For all this to happen and the powerful to be prosecuted and be awarded exemplary punishment, that too in the case of a mass communal ­pogrom, seemed an impossibility. Yet it all happened when judge Jyotsana Yagnik sombrely meted out punishment for arguably the worst incident of the post-Godhra reprisal killings of 2002 that have always been labelled as state sanctioned, if not state sponsored. On 29 August 2012, presiding over a special court in Ahmedabad, in a trial that was monitored by the Supreme Court, judge Jyotsana Yagnik sentenced a sitting member of legislative assembly (MLA) and former minister in the Gujarat government to life imprisonment. The judge, in a 1,990-word verdict, profoundly reaffirmed an article of faith in the Indian system and justice.

Over 300 incidents spread over at least 19 districts of the state had left 2,500 dead or missing, 19,000 homes demolished, 10,000 plus business establishments destroyed not to mention 297 dargahs and masjids being made targets. Naroda Patiya, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, where daily wage earners have been living for over a century, was one such target.

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