Terming the verdict in the Gulberg Society massacre as “diluted and weak”, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad on Friday said she would appeal against it.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) court sentenced 11 of the 24 convicted to life in jail for burning 69 people to death, including then MP Eshan Jafri on February 28, 2002, when communal frenzy gripped Gujarat following the Godhra carnage.
“11 people had to be given life imprisonment since they were convicted in serious offences, but the biggest disappointment for us (was) that rest of them including those 12 people… have been given seven years of imprisonment,” Setalvad said.
The court further awarded a 10 year jail term to one convicted for lesser offences while 12 others were given seven-year sentences each.
“We believe, when a person is convicted under Section 436 of wilful arson and 149, then there should have been a life imprisonment under these also. And in that sense, it is very much diluted judgement and a weak judgement to which we will surely be appealing,” she said.
Setalvad said that they had also asked for compensation for the survivors under Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“We don’t know how the judge has dealt with it.”
Though is acknowledged the day was the “darkest” in the history of civil society, the SIT court rejected the prosecution’s demands for the death penalty for all the convicted.
The court said it has decided to award imprisonment for life without any time frame to 11 of the accused, who were convicted for murder, while requesting the state not to use its power to remit the sentence after 14 years of imprisonment.
The massacre, which took place when Narendra Modi was the Gujarat chief minister, shook the nation when a mob of 400 people set about attacking the Gulberg society in the heart of Ahmedabad.
It was one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.