The special court of Additional Session Judge Babu Mathew P Joseph has convicted 63 people on Saturday for taking part in the May 2, 2003, communal killing at Marad beach near Kozhikode in north Kerala. The court has acquitted 76 others for want of evidence.
This is, perhaps, for the first time that such a large number of accused have been convicted in a communal riot. But Justice Joseph observed that the prosecution could prove charges against only 63 people, although the police initially charge-sheeted 139.
Charges of murder and other offences had been framed against 62, while one person had been held guilty of misusing a place of worship in the area for carrying out the attack. The quantum of punishment will be delivered next week after hearing the counsel for the convicted.
According to the prosecution, a group of some 50 people, armed with swords, knives and other lethal weapons like country-made bombs, pounced on the fishing village of Marad. Nine people were killed and eight of them were Hindus.
The BJP leaders then alleged that the Muslim political parties in the region were behind the massacre. And the police recovered explosives and arms from the local Jama Masjid two days after the killings.
The riot followed an attack that took place in the same spot in 2001 in which five persons were killed — all Muslims.