A special SIT court in Ahmedabad on Thursday convicted 24 of the 66 accused including a VHP leader in the 2002 post-Godhra Gulberg society massacre, which left 69 people including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri dead.
Here are the 10 facts related to the court’s verdict and the massacre case:
1. Special Court Judge PB Desai acquitted 36 others including sitting BJP corporator Bipin Patel and also dropped the conspiracy charge (120 B) against all the accused.
Bipin Patel is a sitting BJP corporator from Asarva seat. He was also corporator in 2002 when the massacre happened and won the election for fourth consecutive term last year.
2. Congress corporator Meghsinh Chaudhari and K G Erda, then police inspector of the area under which the Gulberg Society was located, are among those acquitted.
3. The court said that there is no evidence of criminal conspiracy in the case, while dropping section 120 B of the IPC. Riots victim’s lawyer had argued that the massacre was a pre-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill minority community members of the Gulberg Society.
4. Of the 24 convicted, 11 have been charged with murder, while other 13 have been convicted for lesser offences.
5. The 24 convicted include VHP leader Atul Vaidya.
6. Out of the 66 accused, six had died during the trial.
7. The quantum of sentence for those convicted in the case will be delivered on June 6.
8. The Supreme Court, which has been monitoring the case, had directed the SIT court to give its verdict by May 31.
9. Of the 66 accused named by the SIT in the case, nine are already behind bars, while others are out on bail.
10. The Gulberg Society case is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.
The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station on February 27, 2002 during which 59 ‘karsevaks’ were killed.
Gulberg society case
- February 28, 2002: Muslim dominated Gulberg Society is attacked by a mob leaving 69 people dead, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri.
- June 8, 2006: Zakia Jafri, wife of Ehsan Jafri, submits a complaint, alleging the police did not register FIRs against Narendra Modi and 62 others, including senior ministers.
- March 26, 2008: The Supreme Court orders state government to re-investigate 9 riots cases, including the Gulberg case.
- April 27, 2009: The top court asks SIT to look into Zakia’s complaint over Modi’s alleged role.
- March 27-28, 2010: SIT questions Modi.
- April 10, 2012: SIT submits report, says no proof to substantiate the allegations against Modi.
- April 18, 2013: Zakia Jafri files protest petition in the metropolitan court challenging SIT’s clean chit to Modi and closure report by the SIT.
- October 28, 2013: Magisterial court defers verdict.
- December 26, 2013: Order on Zakia Jafri’s petition rejected. SIT’s closure report upheld.
- March 18, 2014: Zakia Jafri moved the Gujarat high court challenging the magisterial court verdict, which accepted the SIT report on clean chit to chief minister Narendra Modi.
- September 22, 2015: Special court concludes trial for Gulberg Society massacre.
- June 2, 2016: 24 accused convicted, 36 acquitted by Ahmedabad high court. BJP councillor Bipin Patel, among key accused, acquitted. Quantum of punishment to be announced on June 6.
With inputs from PTI