Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

Gujarat High Court to announce verdict in Godhra train burning case today

Godhra case: Gujarat HC commutes death sentence for 11 to life term Godhra train burning case: Gujarat HC commutes death sentence of 11 convicts to life imprisonment
Melissa Porter | 09 October, 2017, 09:53

The Gujarat High Court on Monday altered a lower court verdict in the 2002 Godhra train carnage case. The trial court sentenced 11 persons to death and 20 others to life imprisonment, while acquitting 63 others.

The court asked the government to pay Rs 10 lakh each to the next of victims' family.

The inquiry had concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express in which 59 people, mostly "kar sevaks" returning from Ayodhya were travelling, was not an accident.

While several appeals were filed in the high court challenging the conviction, the Gujarat government also questioned the acquittal of 63 people.

31 people were convicted of murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.

Fifty-nine "karsevaks" were killed in the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002, triggering the worst communal riots in the history of Gujarat.

The 11 convicts that had been sentenced to deaths are Abdul Razzak Kurkur, Ismail Suleja, Jabbir Benyamin Behra, Ramzani Binyamin Behra, Mehboob Hassan alias Latiko, Siraj Bala, Irfan Kalandar, Irfan Patadia, Hassan Lalu, Mehboob Chanda and Salim Zarda. This was challenged in the Gujarat High Court, which heard the petition and kept its sentence reserved for last two-and-a-half years.

The convicts were described as a "core committee" that played a crucial role in organizing a mob of almost 1,000 people and more than 100 litres of petrol to set the train on fire.

Nearly one year after this, Jabir Binyamin Behra, in a confession to the Gujarat Police, reveals that conspiracy was hatched at Aman Guest House in Godhra on February 26, 2002.

The court had convicted 31 people while accepting the prosecution's contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident.

A policeman walks towards the entrance of a carriage of a train in Godhra.