The Gujarat government prosecutor in the Godhra train carnage case is set to seek the death sentence for five men who poured petrol into a coach of the Sabarmati Express and set it ablaze on February 27, 2002, killing 59 passengers.
The killing sparked communal violence in Gujarat, where 1,200 people, mostly Muslims, were done to death in one of independent India’s worst riots.
The fast-track court, which on Tuesday convicted 31 people for the killing of 59 passengers, mostly kar sevaks, is expected to announce the quantum of punishment on Friday.
“The court concluded that the coach was torched by a group of people who forced open the door, poured petrol and set it on fire,” said a police officer who was involved in probing the case.
A lawyer associated with the case told Hindustan Times, “The court has accepted the prosecution’s case of murder and criminal conspiracy. Obviously, the maximum punishment available under the law will be sought by the prosecution.”
Criminal conspiracy combined with murder and attempt to murder provide for capital punishment if the case is found to be “rarest of the rare” by a court, he said.
The court has identified those who set the coach afire as Ayub Patalia, Mehbub Popa, Sadiq Vohra, Irfan Qalander and Saukat Patalia.
Besides them, Razaq Kurkur, owner of the guesthouse where the conspiracy was hatched, and three others present at the meeting, are among the 31 convicted.