A city court will Monday announce the date for handing out punishments to the 24 men convicted in the 2002 Gulberg society massacre case even as the prosecution demanded at least life in jail for those guilty of murder.
The special investigation (SIT) court had on June 2 found 24 people guilty, 11 of them of murder, in the 14-year-old case. Sixty-nine people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed on February 28, 2002 in the communal violence that ravaged Gujarat.
Justice PB Desai while acquitting 36 people, including alleged main conspirator and BJP councillor Bipin Patel, rejected claims that the attack on the predominantly Muslim residential area was planned.
The prosecution led by advocate SM Vora asked for life imprisonment, if not death, for the murder convicts. Arguing against capital punishment, the defence led by advocate Abhay Bhardwaj, sought lighter punishment. It based its argument on the court ruling out the conspiracy angle.
The two sides concluded the arguments on Friday.
A mob carrying weapons attacked the cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartments on February 28, 2002, a day after 59 Hindu activists were killed when a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt in nearby Godhra. The massacre was one of the worst single incidents in the days-long riots in Gujarat that left more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, dead.
Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia had termed the judgment as “justice half delivered” and said she would move a higher court as the main conspirator had been set free.
The Gulberg case is one of the nine 2002 riot cases to be probed by the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team.