M A I N   N E W S

Gallows for 11 Godhra convicts
20 to serve life imprisonment for the 2002 train carnage

Ahmedabad, March 1
Eleven convicts in the Godhra train burning case were today handed down death sentence while 20 others were given life imprisonment by a special court in the 2002 incident that left 59 ‘kar sevaks’ dead and triggered riots which claimed over 1,200 lives in Gujarat.

Considering the case as "rarest of rare", Special Judge PR Patel pronounced death penalty for 11 out of the 31 convicted in the case while 20 others were sentenced to life imprisonment.

"The court after looking into their active role in the conspiracy and setting afire of the S6 coach of Sabarmati Express train near Godhra gave death penalty to 11 persons," public prosecutor JM Panchal said.

The court also slapped punishment on them under various other sections, which will be concurrent with their life term. The prosecution had sought death sentence for all the 31 convicts, saying that it was a heinous act.

On February 22, the court had convicted all the 31 while accepting the prosecution's contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident and convicted 31 under various sections of the IPC like 302 (murder), 307

(attempt to murder) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy). They were also convicted under IPC Section 147, 148 (rioting with deadly weapons), 323, 324,325,326 (causing hurt), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on religious grounds), various sections of the Indian Railways Act, Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act and Bombay Police Act.

The court had acquitted 63 others in the coach burning incident that happened near Godhra railway station. Defence counsel IM Munshi said the convicts will definitely appeal against the punishment awarded to them.

"It (the punishment) is very difficult to swallow. Till we get the copy of the we cannot comment much,” Munshi said. “We will definitely appeal against the verdict in the high court. Till the high court confirms the judgment, it cannot be implemented,” he said.

Following the Godhra train burning incident on February 27, 2002, large scale communal violence had broken out in various parts of Gujarat in which over 1,200 persons, mainly belonging to the minority community, died.

Disagreeing with the judgment, Munshi said, “The court has not believed the first theory which said that the inflammable substance was poured from outside. The court has agreed to the second theory that the accused persons had entered the coach by cutting the vestibule between the S-6 and S-7 coaches and poured the petrol in it.” He said the case of conspiracy had come forth almost four months after the incident.

On February 22, the court had accepted the theory of criminal conspiracy behind the burning of the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express carrying ‘kar sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya based on scientific evidence, statement of witnesses and circumstantial and documentary evidence placed on record.

The trial conducted inside the Sabarmati Central Jail here began in June 2009 with the framing of charges against 94 accused in the carnage.

In all, 253 witnesses were examined during the trial and over 1,500 documentary evidences were presented before the court by the Gujarat police. There were a total of 134 accused in the case, out of which 14 were released due to lack of evidence, five were juvenile, five died during proceedings of over nine years and 16 are absconding. — PTI





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