Babubhai Patel alias Babu Bajrangi, a Bajrang Dal leader who is on death row in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case, has sought mercy from Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli, claiming that he is losing his eyesight.
In a letter to the Governor, Bajrangi has appealed for remission of his sentence citing his medical condition. Bajrangi also claimed that he has developed several other illnesses over the past few years. Bajrangi is also facing charges in the Naroda Gam riot case along with co-convict and former state minister Maya Kodnani, who is out on bail.
Sources in the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing the riot cases, said they are anticipating a correspondence from the Governor’s office on the matter. Sources said the SIT feels that Bajrangi’s letter has no legal importance since he has challenged his conviction and sentence in the Gujarat High Court, where the matter is pending.
“He has sought mercy from the governor on the basis of deteriorating medical condition. We have been informed about the letter and are trying to look at the legal aspects. The letter has no weight, given his appeal petition against the conviction,” said a source in the SIT.
He said the fact that Bajrangi had challenged his conviction indicated that he had not accepted it, therefore legally his appeal for mercy doesn’t stand. Sources said the SIT is preparing its reply to the governor, in case he seeks an explanation.
On August 31, 2012, a special court had convicted Bajrangi, Kodnani and 29 others for killing 97 people in Naroda Patiya. In Bajrangi’s case, the order states, “Accused No.18 (Bajrangi) is convicted of the offence under section 302 (murder) read with Sec.149 of IPC and is sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for remaining period of his natural life subject to remission or commutation at the instance of the Government for sufficient reason only…”
It further states, “The communal hatred displayed by communally charged mob on account of instigation of accused like A-37 (Kodnani), A-18 (Bajrangi)… resulted in the massacre.”
The court order held Bajrangi as “one of the principal conspirators and one of the executors of the conspiracy”, while terming Kodnani the “kingpin”.