Ahmedabad: A special SIT court, which had on June 2 convicted 24 accused in the 2002 post-Godhra Gulberg society massacre case during the Gujarat riots, was expected to pronounce the quantum of sentences today. However, court was adjourned and arguments will continue on June 9.
The prosecution argued for life imprisonment, if not capital punishment, for all the accused, calling it a “rarest of rare” case. It argued for equal punishment for all 24 convicted, as it was mass murder case.
On June 2, judge P.B. Desai convicted 24 of the 66 accused, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, for the incident that left 69 people, including former Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, dead. Out of the 66 accused, six died during the trial. Of the 24 convicted, 11 have been charged with murder, while 13 others, including Vaidya, have been convicted for lesser offences.
While pronouncing the judgement, the court had said there was no evidence of criminal conspiracy in the case and dropped charges under section 120b of the Indian Penal Code.
Also read: Gulberg Society Case: A Timeline of Events
Those acquitted include sitting BJP corporator Bipin Patel, then deputy superintendent of police incharge of the area K.G. Erda and former Congress corporator Meghsinh Chaudhari.
A mob attacked the Muslim-dominated Gulberg housing society, in the heart of Ahmedabad, on February 28, 2002, burning buildings and killing the 69 residents. This case is one of the nine in the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT. The incident occurred a day after coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express was burnt near the Godhra train station on February 27, 2002, killing 58 karsevaks.
After the judgement, Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia had expressed disappointment at the verdict, saying all of the accused should have been punished.