Gulbarg Massacre: Life for 11, 7 convicted for seven years, darkest day in the history of civil society says judge
Kin of the victims have expressed disappointment at the judgement and have said they will appeal against the judgement
A court in Ahmedabad on Friday convicted 11 people for life imprisonment till death in Gulbarg society massacre.
The Special trial court also awarded seven years imprisonment for 12 and 10 years imprisonment for another.
The court had earlier found that 24 people were found 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.
The judge said the day of massacre was the darkest day in the history of civil society
The kin of victims expressed disappointment at the judgement.
Teesta Setalvad, who helped the families of the victims pursue the case said she was disappointed at the judgement. She said there was clear case for exemplary life sentence. She said the victims will be appealing in the higher court.
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.
Among those who were convicted include Atul Vaidya, a local leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
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, Gujarat 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 state chief minister Narendra Modi and 62 others for their alleged involvement in the Gulbarg Society massacre.
- March 2008: The Supreme Court directed 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 SIT.
- 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 SIT 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 Gulbarg 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 Gulbarg 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: Special court convicted 24 persons and acquitted 36 others.
- June 17: Court announce quantum of punishment giving 11 life imprisonment