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India Ex-Minister Jailed For Muslim Massacre

Published: 31/08/2012 04:18:19 PM GMT
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NEW DELHI - Wrapping up a new episode of Gujarat massacre in which hundreds of Muslims were killed, an Indian court sentenced a former Indian state minister to 28 years in jail on Friday, August 31. All of them are Satan's (more)

NEW DELHI - Wrapping up a new episode of Gujarat massacre in which hundreds of Muslims were killed, an Indian court sentenced a former Indian state minister to 28 years in jail on Friday, August 31.

"All of them are Satan's children. Death is not good enough for them," Saleem R. Sheikh, who saw his 27-year-old son stabbed to death, told Reuters.

“They deserve to be tortured in unimaginable ways.”

Gujarat Verdict Brings Muslims Late Justice

Maya Kodnani, a sitting lawmaker for Gujarat state's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and 30 others were jailed for their role in Naroda Patiya massacre, the bloodiest episode of the three-day riots in 2002.

"We're not risking our lives by going there today. It'll be like walking into a lion's mouth," Nazir Khan, a school teacher in Naroda Patiya, a suburb of Ahmedabad, told Reuters following the verdict.

She served as Gujarat state's minister for women and child development from 2007 to 2009.

She is the highest-profile figure to be convicted in connection with the riots.

She was appointed by Gujarat's high-flying chief minister Narendra Modi despite the fact she had already been implicated in the killings, although she was not arrested until 2009.

Witnesses told investigators that 57-year-old Kodnani, a gynecologist, played a leading role in the massacre of 95 people - 30 men, 32 women and 33 children - in Naroda Patiya.

Kodnani handed out swords to Hindu rioters, exhorted them to attack Muslims and at one point fired a pistol, according to witness statements seen by Reuters.

More than 2,000 Muslims were hacked and burnt to death in Gujarat in 2002 by Hindu mobs after Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire first blamed on Muslims but which a later inquiry concluded was accidental.

Several investigations at the state and federal levels accused police of failing to protect Muslims under orders from Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and his aides, fanning one of the worst instances of sectarian violence in India.

Indian Muslims accuse the media and authorities of boosting stereotypes about their religion.

Muslims also complain of a long history of neglect.

Official figures show Muslims, whom make up around 13 percent of India's 1.1 billion population, are lagging behind in literacy.


Kodnani's conviction is an embarrassment for both the Hindu nationalist BJP party and Gujarat's high-flying chief minister Modi.

"Chief minister Narendra Modi will find it difficult to wink at the fact protracted violence took place on his watch," the Times of India said in an editorial.

“It'll be equally hard to justify Kodnani's elevation to the rank of minister.”

Modi was also blamed for failing to stop the riots, with some critics arguing that he actively encouraged the violence.

The new case threatens Modi's dreams of being the country's next prime minister.

But, Modi's government has tried to distance itself from the Kodnani case, saying she was not a minister in 2002.

The Gujarat carnage, the worst religious violence India had seen in years, continues to cast it pale on Muslim-Hindu relations in the troubled state.

It has left hard physical scars on the uneven cobble-stoned alleys and the tiny green, pink and blue houses of Naroda Patiya.

"Never did I imagine that I would be scared to step out and meet my Hindu friends, but 10 years on, I admit I think thrice before even looking at them,” Skeikh said.

Reproduced with permission from