2002 Gulbarg Society Massacre: 11 convicted of murder, conspiracy charges dismissed
The special court investigating the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre in which 69 people were killed during the 2002 riots in Ahmedabad, held 11 persons guilty of murder on Thursday.
The court convicted 13 others including VHP leader Atul Vaidya on lesser offences, while acquitting 36 of the 66 accused. The quantum of punishment is set to be pronounced on June 6.
Notably, sitting BJP corporator, Bipin Patel, is among those acquitted, even as a VHP leader was among those convicted.
Moreover, none of the convicts were found guilty of criminal conspiracy.
During the trial, the prosecution had argued that the massacre was a pre-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill members of the minority community living in Gulbarg Society.
The defence had refuted this theory and claimed that the mob resorted to violence only after Jafri fired several rounds at them.
‘Not satisfied with verdict’
Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP, Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the massacre, expressed disappointment over the verdict.
"I am not satisfied with the court verdict. They should have been punished because I know what they did. They must get the punishment as they killed people and destroyed their families. I saw them doing it with my own eyes," she said.
"When they (those acquitted by court) will be separated from their loved ones, they will realise what we went through. My fight should have stopped but looking at today's judgement the fight will continue,” she added.
Congress welcomes convictions
However, the Congress welcomed the conviction with Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan saying, "We haven't read the verdict completely. I do hope final justice is done to the victims. Accusations have been made and cross accusations have been made. Finally we believe that justice has been done."
R K Raghavan, who headed the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the 2002 Gujarat riots, said he has "mixed feelings" about the verdict.
"I have a mixed feeling as some were convicted while others acquitted. I shall be able to comment more only after looking at the order," Raghavan, a former CBI director, said.
The Gulbarg Society Massacre is one of nine cases from the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by a Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT).
In this case, a mob of about 400 people attacked the society in the heart of Ahmedabad, killing 69 people, many of whom were burnt alive.
The massacre occurred a day after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station on February 27, 2002 during which 58 'karsevaks' were killed.
There were 66 accused named by the SIT in the Gulbarg Society case of which nine have been behind bars for 14 years while others are out on bail.
A total of 338 witnesses testified during the trial, which ran on for over six years.