Gujarat EDN


DNA 18APR2013


Pundits opine demand for capital punishment is mere eyewash to improve his secular image
Roxy Gagdekar @ahmedabad

Probably the state government’s endorsement to SIT’s decision to approach HC seeking capital punishment for Naroda Patia convicts and the Narendra Modi-Nitish Kumar face-off is only co-incidental, but political pundits have raised eyebrows on the timing in which the decision has come.

While Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s unrelenting anti-Modi tirade at the BJP posterboy’s not-so secular image, the endorsement by Gujarat government to the SIT’s proposal to demand gallows for former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, seems a mere eyewash and gimmick conducted mainly to improve Modi’s credentials as a secular leader, observers feel.

If the buzz doing the rounds are to be believed, Kodnani is the state government’s pawn aimed to counter JD(U) leaders, including Nitish Kumar’s allegations that a leader without secular credentials isn’t acceptable to them as the presumptive prime minister of the NDA, which includes his party.

Since 2002 Naroda Patia victims, activists or even their advocates had never demanded capital punishment for any of the accused in the court. They were surprised that despite no demands from them, the SIT has demanded gallows for Kodnani. A victim of Naroda Patia case, Nasir Pathan told dna that every victim is satisfied with special judge Jyotsna Yagnik’s judgment and nobody wants to change it.

Lawyer for the victims, advocate Mukul Sinha told dna that they (victims) are in fact against capital punishment. “We don’t support SIT’s application for punishment enhancement,” he said.

“The same government had rejected SIT’s application to cancel Kodnani’s bail,” Sinha said. Sources close to Kodnani told dna that the she has so far not sought any legal advice to defend state government’s decision.

Human Rights activists, Cedric Prakash said that the decision is a gimmick and smacks of a very clever ploy to defocus from more important issues, like Jafri’s protest petition which names Modi and others as riots accused.