A special Ahmedabad court last week acquitted 66 people, including Bharatiya Janata Party leader Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal’s Babu Bajrangi, of massacring at least 11 Muslims in Naroda Gam during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The acquittal is only the latest in a lengthening list of exonerations of Hindus accused of unleashing mass violence against Muslims during the carnage.

The violence had started after 60 Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train fire in Gujarat’s Godhra town, for which 11 Muslims have since been convicted. The carnage left an estimated 2,000 people dead, the vast majority of them Muslim. In the aftermath, hundreds of Hindus, including leaders of various Hindutva groups, were charged, only for Gujarat’s courts to acquit them in increasing numbers. In many cases, the courts have overturned previous convictions.

Opposition leaders and political observers have pointed the finger at Gujarat’s ruling BJP, which has been in power there since before the carnage happened, saying exonerations like Kodnani’s may be an outcome of political manoeuvring.

Convicted, then acquitted

The Naroda Gam massacre is the second Gujarat carnage case in which Kodnani, a minister in the state’s BJP government led by Narendra Modi, has been acquitted.

In 2012, she was sentenced to 28 years in prison for her alleged involvement in the Naroda Patiya massacre, in which 97 Muslims were killed. She was, however, acquitted by the Gujarat High Court in 2018. Bajrangi’s conviction in that case was upheld, but his sentence of life imprisonment until death was commuted to 21 years without remission…

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