The Supreme Court, today, granted bail to the four convicts in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case. The four convicts include- Umeshbhai Bharwad, Rajkumar, Harshad and Prakashbhai Rathod.
An SC bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilka granted bail to four of the convicts on the chief grounds that the High Court verdict of conviction was ‘debatable’ and that they should be released on bail since their appeal would take much time for disposal.
The apex court, however, expressed serious doubts over three of the convictions. The Supreme Court, while deciding the bail plea, also noted that the Gujarat HC had primarily relied upon identification of these convicts by police officials but in some cases, no identification parade was conducted and the appeals raised doubt over their identification in a group of around 15,000 persons.
At least 97 Muslims were killed in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area on February 28, 2002, when a mob of thousands descended upon the locality, and murdered them. The incident was one of the worst cases of mob violence during the Gujarat riots.
In the Naroda Patiya case, the Gujarat High Court had last year convicted Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, but acquitted former BJP minister Maya Kodnani for want of evidence.