A special court in Ahmedabad on Thursday found 24 people guilty in Gujarat’s Gulbarg Society massacre in which 69 people were burnt to death. 36 of the accused have been acquited. The court did not accept the prosecution charge that there was criminal conspiracy behind the massacre.
There are 62 accused in the case. While 11 of the accused are convicted for murder, 13 others were convicted for other charges.
Quantum of punishment will be decided by the court on Monday, 6, June.
The victims family has decided not to seek capital punishment for those who are convicted for murder.
Zakia Jafri, wife of Congress MP Ishan Jafri said only half justice is done, and they will appeal against the acquittals.
This is among the 10 major cases re-investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court.
The massacre took place on 29 February 2002 a day after Sabarmati Express train was torched killing 59 people.
Security was tight at the court premises from morning.
One of the accused in the case is four time BJP corporator from Asawara area. He has been acquitted in the case.
Among those who were convicted include Athul Vaidya, a local leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP).
K G Erda, inspector of police, who had lodged the first FIR in the case has been acquitted. He was not charged initially, but was later arraigned as an accused.
Four of the accused died during the trial.
P B Desai is the fourth judge who presided over the trial. Previous judges could not pronounce the judgement either due to superannuation or because of Supreme Court’s stay. The judge presided over the trial in Novemember 2014 and concluded the arguments in September 2015.
Up to 20,000 people had breached the boundary wall of the Gulbarg housing complex and set the houses ablaze.
Ehsan Jafri, Congress leader and MP was dragged out, hacked and burnt to death along with others.
There were allegations that his frantic phone calls for deployment of security forces before the attack to police officers and politicians were ignored.
TIMELINE OF GULBARG SOCIETY MASSACRE CASE
February 2002: During the Gujarat riots a Hindu mob attacked the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad in which 69 people were killed. Among the deceased was former parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri.
November 2007: The Gujarat High Court dismissed a petition of Zakia Jafri, wife of Ehsan Jafri, seeking the court’s directive to the police to register a complaint against the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others for their alleged involvement in the Gulberg Society massacre.
March 2008: The Supreme Court directed the Gujarat government to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for a further probe into 14 Godhra and post -Godhra communal riot cases. The SIT was asked to investigate the incidents that occurred in Godhra, Sardarpura, Gulberg Society, Ode, Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patiya, Deepla Darwaza and the one in which three British nationals of Indian origin were killed.
August 2010: The Supreme Court permitted the Special Investigation Team to conduct further probe on the complaint by Zakia Jafri that Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others orchestrated the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
March 2010: The trial was put on hold because of the resignation of the special prosecutor and his assistant. Both had alleged bias on the part of the trial judge and also accused the SIT of not properly coordinating their efforts with them.
March 2011: Gujarat Deputy Inspector-General of Police Sanjiv Bhatt, who is claimed to have spilled the beans on Modi’s alleged controversial orders to the police on the eve of the 2002 communal riots, appeared before the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.
February 2012: The SIT in a “summary closure report” – says there was no “prosecutable evidence” against Narendra Modi, who was among 62 persons named in an omnibus complaint filed by Zakia Jafri and the Citizens for Justice and Peace.
March 2012: The Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court rejects Zakia Jafri’s plea to making public the SIT report.
December 2013: Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court rejects the petition of Zakia Jafri against the closure report of the Special Investigation Team giving a clean chit to the Gujarat Chief Minister.
December 2013: Reacting to an Ahmedabad trial court verdict, R.K. Raghavan, head of the SIT appointed by the Supreme Court to go into Gujarat riots, says SIT’s stand has been vindicated.
November 2014: The trial in the Gulberg Society case, resumed following the Supreme Court’s directions to conclude it in three months.
November 2014: The Supreme Court asks the Sessions Court to complete the trial in the Gulberg case, one of the nine cases connected to the 2002 post-Godhra riots, in three months.
August 6, 2015: Supreme Court grants three-month extension to Ahmedabad court to complete trial proceedings in the case.
June 2, 2016: A Special court convicted 24 persons and acquitted 36 others.