Tuesday, February 22, 2011

31 people guilty of burning the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station

Sentences To Be Pronounced On Feb 25

Ahmedabad: A special court on Tuesday held 31 people guilty of burning the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002 killing 59 passengers, mainly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya.
Additional sessions judge P R Patel acquitted 63 of the 94 accused for want of evidence in Gujarat’s first Pota case. The court upheld the conspiracy theory but let go Maulvi Hussain Umarji, 63, who, the police said, had masterminded the killings. Of those acquitted, 13 were already out on bail and the rest will be free after spending nearly nine years in prison.
The conspiracy charge almost collapsed when Umarji, who was accused of directing the attack, was declared innocent. The court convicted the 31 for murder and conspiracy but will declare their sentence on Friday. The court described the motive behind the attack as the accused’s anger against kar sevaks. Those acquitted cried out of joy while the convicts stood sternfaced listening to the judge who sealed their fate within 30 minutes after he walked into the court. The Godhra train burning had sparked off riots across the state in 2002 in which nearly 1,200 people, mainly Muslims, were killed. The riots were seen as revenge of the killing of kar sevaks at Godhra.
The 835-page judgment convicts mainly on the basis of confessions before the magistrate. Forensic evidence, combined with 50 eyewitness accounts, helped the court conclude that the coach was set on fire by a group that forced open the door, poured petrol inside and ignited it. Haji Bilal, Razak Kurkur, Salim Zarda, Hasan Charkha, Mehboob Latika, Jabir Behra, Irfan Bhobho and Shaukat Pataliya, who lived at Signal Falia of Godhra, were convicted based on statements by witnesses and accused under Section 164 of CrPC.
The court also held them guilty of rioting, arson, damaging public property and other railway laws after Pota charges were dropped.
The judge appeared to have agreed with most of the version given by investigating officer Noel Parmar, who was the member of the first SIT set up by the Gujarat government. One of the main reasons for the acquittals, say lawyers, was the conflicting versions of the police investigations and the other is the fact that the police randomly picked up at least 70 people while combing Godhra on the night of February 27, 2002 and later booked them under Pota. Among them was former president of Godhra municipality Mohammed Hussain Kalota, who is now free. The conviction was based on investigations by the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team headed by former CBI chief R K Raghavan.
Media barred from Sabarmati Jail courtroom when the additional sessions judge P R Patel gave out the verdict
Fate of the 94 accused was sealed in barely 30 minutes after judge Patel entered the courtroom
Relatives of accused remained in Godhra on judgment day
Special court upheld investigator Noel Parmar’s conspiracy theory

No comments:

Post a Comment