The Gujarat High Court on Friday upheld a trial court order convicting Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case. However, it acquitted former Bharatiya Janata Party minister Maya Kodnani, ANI reported.

The trial court had held Kodnani to be the kingpin in the case and sentenced her to 28 years in jail. Bajrangi was given life imprisonment till death. The court had also held 27 others guilty in the case.

But a High Court division bench of judges Harsha Devani and AS Supehiya found no criminal conspiracy in the riots and said that none of the witnesses were reliable. It also upheld the conviction of 12 of the 29 who had filed appeals and acquitted the remaining 17. It sentenced all 12 convicts, including Bajrangi, to 21 years in prison.

Of the 29 accused acquitted by the Special Investigation Team court, the Gujarat High Court upheld the acquittal of 26 and convicted three of offences such as stone pelting and arson, The Times of India reported.

Moreover, the bench turned down an appeal filed by the victims for compensation.

At least 97 Muslims were killed in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area on February 28, 2002, when a mob comprising thousands of people descended upon the locality, and murdered them. The incident was one of the worst cases of mob violence during the Gujarat riots.

The convicts in the case had challenged the lower court’s order in the High Court while a Special Investigation Team had filed a plea against the acquittals.

Kodnani, who is out on bail, has claimed that she was not at the scene of the violence.