Blindness mercy for Gujarat riot braggart
Babu Bajrangi, sentenced to 21 years in prison for the single largest instance of mass murder during the Gujarat riots of 2002, has been granted bail by the Supreme Court after the state filed a medical report that certified him 100 per cent blind.
Bajrangi, then a leader of the Bajrang Dal, was convicted for the infamous Naroda Patiya massacre in which 97 people were killed. The orgy of violence lasted 10 hours on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train carnage, and resulted in some of the most horrific atrocities associated with the Gujarat riots.
Bajrangi was accused of personally murdering at least one pregnant woman although a grisly version linked to the incident could not be established conclusively in a special court.
On Thursday, the Gujarat government submitted in the court a medical report from the state civil hospital that said Bajrangi needed constant medical care and attendance because of his loss of vision. The convict had undergone open-heart surgery and is said to be suffering from heart ailments, the state said.
A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar accepted the plea of advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing for some of the surviving victims of the riots, that Bajrangi should be released only on certain stringent conditions to be decided by the trial court that had convicted him.
In 2007, Tehelka had caught Bajrangi boasting on camera how he and his associates had indulged in violence and arson at Naroda Patiya in 2002. “We hacked, burned, set on fire…,” he had bragged and declared: “I don’t care if I’m hanged….”
Bajrangi had also claimed that he had called the then Gujarat home minister and informed him of the pogrom.