October 9, 2017 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
New Delhi: The Gujarat High Court has here today reduced to ‘life in prison’ the death sentence given to 11 convicts in the 2002 Godhra train burning case.
A special trial court had on March 1, 2011, convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 of setting ablaze a coach of the Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002 at Godhra station. Of the 31 convicts, 11 were sentenced to death and 20 were given life in prison for All the convicts had appealed their conviction.
On Monday, a division bench of justice AS Dave and justice GR Udhaari upheld life imprisonment for the 20 other convicts in the case and refused to alter the acquittal order for 63 accused.
It is maintained by the state government that these 31 people so convicted by the trial court are responsible for setting coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express train on fire in which around 59 ‘Hindu Activists’ coming from Ayodhya reportedly died.
The Godhra incident was used as a trigger point by Hindutva forces to unleash the genocidal violence against Muslim population across the state.
In order to cover up its involvement and justify the 2002 anti-Muslim killings in the incident the pro-hindutva organisation through its political offshoot the BJP got a trial court organised in order to give the general public an impression that the violence was in retaliation to the burning of so-called ‘kar sewaks’.
Further, it observed that the state government and the Railways failed miserably in maintaining law and order during the 2002 incident. The HC then directed the government and the Railways to pay Rs 10 lakh each to the families of those killed in the Godhra train burning incident.
In 2011, the 63 persons the Gujarat HC acquitted included Maulana Hussain Umarji, who was dubbed by the Gujarat police as the ‘mastermind’ of the carnage. Out of over 130 accused persons, 94 could be put on trial before the trial court. Even after the trial court delivered its verdict on February 22, 2011, some of the accused were nabbed and put on trial, reads a quote from a report published in an English vernacular.
The Gujarat government and the special investigation team that probed the incident had sought confirmation from the Gujarat high court to the death sentence given to 11 by the trial court. The government also demanded the maximum punishment for the 20 people given life imprisonment. Besides, it questioned the acquittal of 63 persons. The kin of the fire victims’ too have sought death for all accused persons, reports Times of India (ToI).