Gandhinagar: Gujarat high court on Monday handed down punishment of life imprisonment to seven persons and confirmed the punishment for two others for killing three members of Muslim community in Viramgam during the post-Godhra riots.
A bench of Justice Harsha Devani and Justice Biren Vaishnav was hearing an appeal filed by the state government against the trial court’s decision to acquit these people on charges of murder and unlawful assembly.
In this case, a mob of about 40 persons attacked a Muslim locality in Viramgam town of Ahmedabad district and tried to demolish a religious structure on February 28, 2002, a day after a violent mob torched S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express in Godhra and killed 59 passengers returning from Ayodhya. When locals challenged them, the mob turned on them and killed three persons.
Police investigation nailed 10 person and the trial court convicted two persons for murder and awarded life imprisonment to them, while it acquitted others of murder charges. It convicted four of lesser charges and imposed lesser punishment on them.
Of them, the high court has now convicted seven persons of murder charges and unlawful assembly and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The HC has also confirmed the conviction and punishment of life imprisonment for two other convicts, said special prosecutor JM Panchal.
Those who got life imprisonment on Monday are Satabhai alias Haider Gela Bharwad, Naranbhai Samantbhai Bharwad, Udaji Ranchhodbhai Thakor, Valabhai Gelabhai Bharwad, Vitthal alias Kuchiyo Moti Bharwad, Mulabhai Gelabhai Bharwad and Merabhai Gelabhai Bharwad.
With the high court’s verdict, only one person remains acquitted in this case, Devabhai Samant bhai Bharwad.
In 2010, one of the witnesses Dost Mohammed Bhatti had moved the high court complaining against police inaction. The high court directed the investigators to re-investigate the case.