Gulbarg Massacre: 24 Convicted, 36 Acquitted

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Ahmedabad: A special court in Ahmedabad court has convicted 24 of the 66 accused in the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre case. The court has also acquitted 36 of the accused in the case. The court ruled that the massacre at Gulbarg Society was not pre-planned but a spontaneous attack.

Of the 24 convicted in the case, 11 have been convicted of murder while 13 have been found guilty of other charges. The court will pronounce the sentence on June 6.

The convicted include VHP leader Atul Vaidya. A number of VHP leaders, including Haresh Bhatt and Jaydeep Patel, had come to the court premises to extend support to the accused. They said they would approach higher courts against the verdict.

The acquittals include the then Meghaninagar police inspector KG Erda, the only cop arraigned and put on trial in the case for dereliction of duty and destruction of evidence. He was accused of ineffective firing and leaving the spot when his presence was most required to save the lives of Gulbarg Society residents.

The other key acquittals include local BJP councillor Bipin Patel and former Congress councillor Meghsingh Chaudhary.

The trial has lasted seven years and has been conducted in front of four different judges. The verdict was delivered by special judge PB Desai amid tight security.

The special court had completed the trial in September 2015, but had been restrained by the Supreme Court from pronouncing the verdict. The SC had then directed the trial court to deliver its verdict by May 31.

The Gulbarg Society case is the eighth of nine cases investigated by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by former CBI chief RK

Of the 66 accused, five died during the trial. As many as 338 witnesses were examined in the case. One of them was the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi , who had been accused of conspiracy by Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the massacre.

Gulbarg Society, a Muslim residential pocket of about 30 bungalows and 10 apartment blocks in Ahmedabad, had come under attack a day after the Sabarmati Express was torched in Godhra in 2002. 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, are believed to have been killed.

Thirty-nine bodies were found while 31 people, including Jafri and 14-year-old Parsi boy Azhar Mody, went missing. Seven years later, 30 of the missing were declared dead. The one left, Muzaffar Shaikh, was found alive in 2008. He was being brought up by a Hindu family and had been renamed Vivek.

TOI

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