Of the 24 accused, 11 were convicted for murder under Section 302 of the IPC by special judge P B Desai who convicted others for lesser offences. Out of the 66 accused, six had died during the trial. (Source: Express Photo by Javed Raja)
More than 14 years after the ghastly Gulberg massacre that killed 69 people including, former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, 24 people were on Thursday convicted by a special court here which acquitted 36 others and dropped conspiracy charges against all the accused in one of the worst riots post-Godhra violence in Gujarat.
READ | No conspiracy verdict in Gulberg case does not seem to add up
Of the 24 accused, 11 were convicted for murder under Section 302 of the IPC by special judge P B Desai who convicted others for lesser offences. Out of the 66 accused, six had died during the trial. Sitting BJP corporator Bipin Patel was among the acquitted while VHP leader Atul Vaidya figures among the 13 convicted for lesser offences. K G Erda, the then police inspector of the area in which the Gulberg Society was located and former Congress corporator Meghsinh Chaudhari were among those who were acquitted.
READ | What happened at Gulberg, 14 years ago
Dropping Section 120 B of the IPC, the court held that there is no evidence of criminal conspiracy in the case. The dropping of conspiracy charge could result in lesser sentencing in jail. The quantum of sentence will be announced on June 6. The prosecution is likely to seek capital punishment for the 11 convicted for murder, while the lawyers of victims said that they will seek imprisonment till death for them.
Congress described the conviction as “half justice”. “It is half justice – not full justice. I say half justice because the main accused – a BJP corporator – has been let free. Why he is being let free remains to be studied, analysed. In all such cases, our experience has been that the masterminds somehow manage to get themselves free…and the foot soldiers, the people who take orders, are found guilty,” party spokesman Jairam Ramesh told reporters in the capital.
The people who “masterminded” the massacre, who planned the massacre, should also be brought to book. “That is the only way this matter can be put to rest,” he said.
Highlights | Gulberg Society verdict: 24 convicted, BJP leader acquitted along with 35 others
The Jafri family-his widow Zakia and son Tanvir-expressed disappointment over the number of acquittals in the case and said they would consult lawyers whether to appeal against the order. R K Raghavan, former CBI Director who had headed the Supreme Court-appointed SIT into the massacre, said he has “mixed feelings” on the verdict adding they would consult legal opinion on whether to appeal against the judgement.
Picture Gallery | Gulbarg Society revisited: Photos that give a glimpse of the carnage of 2002
The Gulberg Society massacre in Ahmedabad took place on February 28, 2002 when Narendra Modi was Gujarat chief minister shook the nation when a mob of 400 people set about attacking the society in the heart of Ahmedabad and killed the residents including Jafri. It was one …