'Affected families didn't come to hear the verdict' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Affected families didn't come to hear the verdict'

The Mehsana trial court's judgment, convicting 31 people in the 2002 Sardarpura riots case, might have made activists happy, but it has made little difference to the families that had lost their loved ones.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2011 01:04 IST
HT Correspondent

The Mehsana trial court's judgment, convicting 31 people in the 2002 Sardarpura riots case, might have made activists happy, but it has made little difference to the families that had lost their loved ones.

"None of the nearly two dozen affected families were present in the court to hear the verdict," said YV Sheikh, one of the lawyers who represented the victims in the trial.

"As a lawyer, I can say it's a very heartening judgment, because one gets the sense of justice in the system, but it was just a mechanical process for the victims," he said. "All of them are very poor people, and the loved ones they have lost are lost forever."

The Muslims of Sheikh Mohalla who survived the night of March 1, 2002, have left their homes for good. Now all the families live in Satnagar, about 100 km from Sardarpura.

But those acquitted by the court are not rejoicing either. Most are related to the people who have been convicted. "Of the 73 accused, more than 50 belonged to the inter-related Patel community," said a defence lawyer.

Those pursuing justice for the victims, however, are happy.

Dr RK Raghavan, who headed the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) that investigated the case, told HT the "judgment was satisfying".

Social activist Teesta Setalvad said without the apex court's monitoring the case, such a strong conviction would not have taken place.

In response to the petition by Setalvad's NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace, the SC had constituted the SIT to reinvestigate the nine most gruesome cases including the Sadarpura case.

BJP spokesperson Shah-nawaz Hussain played down the verdict. "This is a legal process and the matter is in the court," he said.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, "We are always respectful of the court verdicts. We sympathise with the riot victims". Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia said his party welcomes the verdict, but "those who hatched conspiracy (the riots) must also be probed".

State BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani said, "The verdict silences those who defamed Gujarat, saying there was no justice in the state." Gujarat government spokesperson Jayna-rayan Vyas was not available for comment.