A special sessions court on Monday adjourned the quantum of punishment to 24 people convicted for massacring 69 people at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Housing Society in 2002.
The 69 people were killed during the violence that took place in the predominantly-Muslim populated colony on February 28, 2002. Among those killed in the brutality was former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri.
In his verdict 14 years after the massacre, special sessions court judge PB Desai on Thursday convicted 24 people, including Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Atul Vaidya but rejected the charge of conspiracy.
The court also observed that the quantum of punishment for an accused who has jumped parole cannot be pronounced. Arguments in the case will continue on June 9, when the quantum of punishment is likely to be pronounced.
The prosecution has argued for life imprisonment, if not capital punishment, for all the accused, calling it a “rarest of the rare” case. It argued for equal punishment for all the 24 accused, as it was the case of mass murder.
Of the 24, the court adjudged 11 guilty of murder and 13 guilty of lesser crime. Vaidya has been convicted for lesser crime under Section 436, among others, for attacking and burning shops and houses. The court declared 36 of the 66 accused as not guilty for want of evidence and ordered their acquittal.
Those set free included Bharatiya Janata Party corporator Bipin Patel and police Inspector KG Erda.
The massacre was one of the worst single incidents in the days-long riots in Gujarat that left more than 1,000 people dead. The incident came a day after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station in which 59 Karsevaks were killed.
Zakia Jafir, the widow of the slain Congress MP, has termed the judgment as “half-justice”. She maintained that her battle in the case will continue in a higher court.