Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

Daughter of Gujarat riot convict is BJP’s candidate from Naroda Patiya

Anaesthetist Payal Kukrani's father Manoj was convicted of murder, rioting, defiling place of worship, provoking riot and other sections of the IPC

Payal Kukrani, 30, an anaesthetist who works at a private hospital, has been fielded from the Naroda Assembly seat in Ahmedabad city. (Credit: Facebook/Dr.Payal Kukrani)

Among the BJP’s first list of 160 candidates contesting this year’s Gujarat Assembly elections, one name has been drawing a lot of attention. Payal Kukrani, 30, an anaesthetist who works at a private hospital, has been fielded from the Naroda Assembly seat in Ahmedabad city. Payal’s mother Reshma is a corporator from the Saijpur Bogha ward in Ahmedabad.

But it is her father’s identity that is raising the hackles. It is in the neighbourhoods of Naroda Patiya and adjoining Naroda Gam, which make up the constituency, where on February 28, 2002, more than 96 Muslim residents were killed and numerous others raped and injured by mobs over a span of 10 hours, with many of the victims and their homes torched in what was later described as “the largest single case of mass murder” during the Gujarat riots. Payal’s father Manoj Kukrani was one of the 32 who were convicted in the case.

The Naroda seat was represented by former minister Maya Kodnani in 2002, who was also convicted in the Naroda Patiya case by a special Ahmedabad court in 2012. The Gujarat HC acquitted Kodnani and 13 others in 2018 while upholding the conviction of 16 others. Two of those convicted by the trial court had by then died in jail.

The BJP did not repeat sitting MLA Balram Thawani, giving the ticket to Payal instead.

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In August 2012, an Ahmedabad special court, conducting a speedy trial of the 2002 riot cases, had held Manoj Kukrani, a BJP worker at the time of the riots, guilty of attempt to murder and murder (IPC sections 307 and 302), rioting, unlawful assembly, injuring or defiling place of worship (IPC Section 295), causing mischief by fire (IPC sections 435 and 436), wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot (IPC Section 153), promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and committing such offence in place of worship (IPC sections 153A and 153A-2). Kukrani, along with the others who were convicted, was given a sentence of a minimum of 21 years of rigorous imprisonment before being considered for remission, after at least 22 witnesses had testified to his role. A division bench of the Gujarat High Court, in 2018, had confirmed Kukrani’s conviction, though it reduced the sentence to life imprisonment, to be meant in usual terms.

Court records show eyewitnesses had testified at the trial that Manoj and others were seen with firearms, which were also later used to burst gas cylinders to destroy entire chawls and houses of the riot victims. He was part of the mob that had poured kerosene on a Muslim woman to burn her alive. Several other complaints (nine in total) were also registered by victims, alleging Kukrani’s involvement in the mob that torched and gangraped women.

The court had recorded that at the time, police had closed these complaints without giving them due weightage, as a result of which, the same could not be considered as material evidences in the trial. Court records indicate that Manoj was also involved in instigating communal riots in 2001, a fact the court took into account to ascertain his criminal antecedents.


In September 2016, the Gujarat High Court had granted regular bail to Manoj, after his lawyers submitted that he was “totally bedridden and not in a position to carry out his day-to-day activities, and that his condition was deteriorating day by day and that lastly, he was suspected to be suffering from brain cancer”.

Prior to Gujarat HC’s grant of bail, Manoj had already been granted 90 days of temporary bail from time to time, in view of his physical condition.

The SIT too had not opposed his bail, submitting medical reports that indicated Manoj was “not in a position to move his right-side limbs, does not sit or turn around or hold his head”, required use of a catheter, and was being treated for diabetes with insulin injections. Manoj claimed he had been paralysed, with 80 per cent disability.


Manoj’s appeal against his conviction remains pending before the Supreme Court.

First published on: 11-11-2022 at 21:03 IST
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