Gulberg Massacre: Court Defers Announcement of Punishment

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New Delhi:  A special SIT court, which had on June 2 convicted 24 accused in the 2002 post-Godhra Gulberg society massacre case, today deferred to June 9 the pronouncement of the quantum of sentence in the case. The prosecution sought capital punishment for the 11 convicted of murder, while the lawyer of the victims pleaded the court for life imprisonment for them.

On June 2, Special Court Judge PB Desai had convicted 24 of the 66 accused, including a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader, in the Gulberg Society massacre, in which 69 people, including former Congress MP Eshan Jafri, were brutally killed.

Of the 66 accused, six had died during the trial. Of the 24 convicted, 11 have been charged with murder, while 13 others, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, have been convicted for lesser offences. While pronouncing the judgment, the court had said that there was no evidence of criminal conspiracy in the case and dropped relevant charges.

Those acquitted included sitting BJP corporator Bipin Patel, the then police inspector of the area under which the Gulberg Society was located, KG Erda, and former Congress corporator Meghsinh Chaudhari.

The Gulberg Society is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team. The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station on February 27, 2002 during which 58 ‘karsevaks’ were killed.

Ehsan Jafri’s wife Zakia had expressed disappointment over the verdict, calling it “half-justice”. She said she will move a higher court. “My hope of getting full justice has not been realised. My struggle would go on. I will fight the case till my last breath,” Jafri said.

“We along with Teesta Setalvad and a renowned lawyer from Delhi will continue to fight this case,” 77-year-old Jafri, who has been pursuing the case with Teesta Setalvad, said.

Zakia also said the Congress as a party never interfered in the case and they have been at a receiving end of the political vendetta. “We along with Teesta Setalvad and a renowned lawyer from Delhi will continue to fight this case,” said Jafri when asked about the options left with her.

 

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