Ahmedabad: The special SIT court on Friday has announced the quantum of punishment in the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre case with 11 of the 24 accused awarded life imprisonment and the remaining 12 convicts to be jailed for seven years. The verdict that was passed after 14 year long trial came to be a conclusion when the judge avoided the death penalty and passed the verdict.
Last week, the court had convicted 24 of the 66 people accused in the case. 36 people were acquitted for want of evidence against them. Five people had died during trial and one is missing. The verdict came 14 years after a large mob attacked Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad killing 69 people, including former Congress lawmaker Ehsan Jafri.
Among those acquitted was Bipin Patel a four-time BJP corporator who was accused of being part of the mob and was charged with murder. The court rejected the charge of criminal conspiracy against all the 66 accused, saying there was no evidence to suggest a conspiracy.
It is seen as a setback for the families of victims, who say the mob attack was pre-planned and not a spontaneous act. Gulbarg society was attacked on February 28, 2002, a day after a mob set afire coaches of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra station leaving 59 people dead.
At Gulbarg society, houses were set afire and Ehsan Jafri was dragged out, hacked and burnt to death. His frantic phone calls to police officers and senior politicians for help allegedly went unanswered.