By MM Special Correspondent
The Supreme Court Thursday granted bail to 2002 Gujarat riots convict Babu Bajrangi on medical grounds. The Bajrang Dal leader was convicted in the Naroda Patiya case in which 97 people were killed, and had been sentenced to undergo life imprisonment.
In 2007, the investigative journal Tehelka published a hidden-camera interview with Bajrangi, in which Bajrangi speaks candidly of his role in the organized pogrom of Indian Muslims in the Naroda Patiya massacre, a particularly intense episode of brutality during the 2002 Gujarat riots. He said “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire … we hacked, burned, set on fire … we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it … I have just one last wish … let me be sentenced to death … I don’t care if I’m hanged … just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs [seven or eight hundred thousand] of these people stay … I will finish them off … let a few more of them die … at least 25,000 to 50,000 should die.”
In the video, Bajrangi claimed that after the killings, he called the home minister Gordhan Zadaphiaand the VHP General Secretary Jaideep Patel, and told them about the killings. After a few hours, an FIR was lodged against him, and the police commissioner issued orders to shoot him at sight. He was later arrested, and released on bail. He was out on bail at the time of the Tehelka interview. He also claimed Narendra Modi tried to subvert the judicial process.
In 2012, he was convicted in the Naroda Patiya massacre case along with Maya Kodnani and thirty other accused. All thirty-two of the accused were found guilty of “murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy, spreading enmity and communal hatred and unlawful assembly”. On 31 August 2012, Bajrangi was sentenced to life imprisonment.
As of 2016, Bajrangi had been granted temporary bail 14 times on grounds of his wife’s and his own poor health. Having developed partial blindness and deafness, Bajrangi now has a deputed attendant in Sabarmati Central Jail.