The BJP government in Gujarat has decided to put on hold its decision to seek the death sentence for the former Gujarat Minister, Mayaben Kodnani, and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda-Patiya massacre case, following stiff resistance from the Sangh Parivar.
The Narendra Modi-led government has asked the special prosecutor probing the case of massacre of 91 people during the 2002 riots to put on hold its decision to press for the death sentence for Ms. Kodnani and Bajrangi. Kodnani was alleged to have played a key role in the killings, the single bloodiest episode of the three-day riots.
The government would now seek further legal opinion on its decision, sources at the Secretariat said.
Last month, the government asked the law department to get the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to file an appeal in the Gujarat High Court, seeking the death sentence for the high-profile BJP leader — who was forced to resign from the Modi government after a case was filed against her — and longer sentences for the other convicts. This was to challenge the life sentence awarded to Bajrangi and a 28-year term to Kodnani by a sessions court.
Sources in the government said the Law Department had asked the SIT’s chief prosecutor to defer seeking enhanced sentences for the convicts. The decision came after pressure mounted from the Sangh Parivar, which wondered how “our very own government could even think of recommending the death sentence when it should have protected us,” a saffron leader told The Hindu, speaking on condition of anonymity.