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Gulberg Society massacre case: Court to pronounce quantum of sentence today

india Updated: Jun 06, 2016 12:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Gulberg Society massacre case

File photo of the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad. A special court will pronounce the quantum of sentence in the Gulberg Society massacre case on June 6, 2016. (Manoj Patil / HT Photo )

A Special Investigative Team (SIT) court is expected to pronounce the quantum of sentence in the Gulberg society massacre on Monday.

On June 2, Justice PB Desai had convicted 24 and acquitted 66 of the accused. Thirty-six were let go for lack of evidence. Five accused died during the trial and one went missing.

Of the 24 convicted, 11 were charged with murder, while 13 others, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, were convicted for lesser offences.

The prosecution is likely to seek capital punishment for those charged with murder.

Sixty-nine people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed during the violence that took place in the predominantly-Muslim populated Gulberg Society colony in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002. It was one of the worst single incidents in the days-long riots that left more than 1,000 people dead in the state at the time.

The massacre came a day after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station in which 59 Karsevaks were killed.

Read | Gulberg Society massacre ruling highlights the problem with delayed justice

While acquitting 35 of them, including main conspirator and the BJP councillor Bipin Patel, the court rejected the conspiracy theory that the massacre was a well planned attack in retaliation to the Godhra carnage on the grounds of no evidence.

Patel was the then police inspector of the area under which the Gulberg Society was located. KG Erda, and former Congress corporator Meghsinh Chaudhari were also acquitted.

The defence intends to argue against capital punishment considering the charges have been dropped.

Among the convicted are a former Congress councillor who joined BJP in 2014, Meghji Chaudhary, and VHP leader Atul Vaidya. Both were convicted for lesser offences and not murder.

Ehsan Jafri’s widow, Zakia, was disappointed with the judgement, saying it was “half justice done”, and will continue her 14-year-long battle. Zakia plans to move a higher court against the main conspirator and others who were set free.

The Gulberg Society massacre is one of nine cases that is being investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots.

(With inputs from PTI)