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23 guilty for post-Godhra riots
Ode village carnage: Sentencing on April 12, prosecution seeks capital punishment for convicted

What happened 10 years ago

March 1, 2002: A mob attacks houses and business establishments of the minority community in the small village of Ode
Rioters first attack houses in the Surewalil Bhagol area, but flee when the police arrive and open fire. A youth, Nisith Patel, dies in firing
Rioters regroup, target eight minority community homes in the Pirawali Bhagol area of the village
Mob lobs petrol-filled pouches and burning rags into houses where members of the minority community are taking shelter
Houses under attack set on fire, reduced to ashes
23 persons hiding in one of the houses burnt to death. Remains of only two found
An elderly man, Akbar Khan Pathan, and his son Mohammad Khan survive. Both are key prosecution witnesses
March 2, 2002: Incident comes to light as most members of the community had fled the village. Police registers case
March 3, 2002: Mob attacks, kills Rasoolmiya, who had stayed back in the village

Anand, April 9
A decade after 23 persons, including 18 women and children, were burnt alive by a mob in Gujarat's Ode village in this district during the post-Godhra riots, a court here today convicted 23 accused and let off as many in a case it described as "rarest of rare".

District and Sessions Judge Poonam Singh held 23 of the 47 accused guilty. She will pronounce the quantum of sentence on April 12. One of the accused died during trial.

Twenty-three persons, including nine women and as many children of the minority community, were burnt to death in a house in Pirwali Bhagol area of Ode village by a mob of over 1,500 on March 1, 2002 following the Godhra train burning incident that had triggered communal conflagration across the state.

Special public prosecutor PN Parmar said the court considered the incident to be "rarest of the rare". He said of the 23 persons found guilty, 18 were convicted for murder and criminal conspiracy and five for attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.

The Ode carnage case is the third of the nine cases probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT in which judgment has been delivered.

Earlier, a court had awarded the death sentence to 11 and life term to 20 in the Godhra train burning incident in which 58 persons, mostly kar sevaks, had been killed on February 27, 2002.

The second case was that of Sardarpura village in Mehsana district in which 31 persons were awarded life term and 42 others acquitted. Thirty-three Muslims had been burnt alive at Sardarpura in Mehsana district during the 2002 communal riots.

Riot victims and those working to secure justice for them have hailed the judgment. Teesta Setalvad of NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, working for the riot victims, welcomed the judgment and said she was satisfied with it.

The prosecution has sought capital punishment for all those convicted for the Ode massacre, Special public prosecutor PN Parmar said. He said more than 150 witnesses were examined and over 170 documentary evidences placed before the court during the trial.

The trial in the case had commenced towards the end of 2009 and was on the verge of completion when the then judge hearing the case resigned in May 2011, citing personal reasons, following which Judge Poonam Singh was appointed and arguments heard afresh. PTI

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