In a clear vindication of Tehelka’s 2007 investigation, a special trial court in Ahmedabad on 29 August convicted former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi along with 30 others in the Naroda Patiya massacre case. The court acquitted 29 accused in the same case.
The sting operation conducted by Tehelka’sInvestigation Editor Ashish Khetan exposed Bajrangi and Kodnani as the main conspirators in the case.(Ahmedabad: Carnage Capital )
Khetan’s spy camera captured Bajrangi confessing that he saw the Godhra train burning, returned to Naroda, mobilised a team of 29-30 people on the night of 27 February itself and took revenge. (‘After Killing Them, I Felt Like Maharana Pratap’ )
Two members of the select team formed by Bajrangi, Suresh Richard and Prakash Rathod were recorded onTehelka’s spycam saying that Kodnani drove around Naroda all day, urging the mob to hunt Muslims down and kill them.
Not only did Bajrangi recount hacking and setting on fire hundreds of Muslims but also said he enjoyed it and felt like Maharana Pratap after killing them. “I don’t care if I’m hanged… Give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura [a Muslim dominated area], where seven or eight lakh of these people stay… I will finish them off … Let a few more of them die… At least 25-50,000 should die…” he said.
The number of Muslims killed that day or the “score” as Bajrangi estimated the Muslim killings were well over 200. This figure, however, was not acknowledged by the state government whose official records maintain that 105 people were killed in Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon that day.
This verdict comes almost three years after the trial in this case began in 2009 after Supreme Court-appointed SIT carried out further investigations into the case. During this time, the court examined almost 327 witnesses, victims, police personnel, government officials and journalists including Khetan who carried out a TV sting operation on the accused in 2007.