Ahmedabad, Oct 9, 2017: The Gujarat High Court on Monday upheld the convictions in the 2002 Godhra train coach burning case. The court, however, provided relief 11 convicted people who were on the death row.
The death penalty handed to those 11 people has been commuted into life imprisonment.
The high court commuted the death sentences of the 11 men to life in prison. The court also dismissed the Gujarat government’s appeal against the acquittals awarded to 63 people in the Sabarmati Express burning case.
Coach S-6 of Sabarmati Express was set on fire by an angry mob at the Godhra Railway Station on February 27, 2002, in which 59 people have lost their lives mostly ‘kar sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya were travelling.
The incident had saprked state-wide communal riots with sporadic violence continuing for nearly two months.
A bench of Justice AS Dave and Justice GR Udhwani will pronounce their verdict some 29 months after they completed hearing arguments on appeals filed against the SIT court’s verdict awarding death to 11 persons and sending 20 others to life imprisonment.
In February 2011, a special court had convicted 31 persons for the train burning incident. Out of the 31, eleven were awarded death penalty, while 20 were given life term.
Those acquitted included the prime accused, Maulana Umarji, the then president of Godhra Municipality Mohammad Hussain Kalota, Mohammad Ansari and Nanumiya Chaudhary of Gangapur, Uttar Pradesh.
On February 25, 1,700 people, a mix of pilgrims including karsevaks had boarded the Sabarmati Express which was bound for Ahmedabad. However, on February 27, the train, which was about four hours late, made a stop at Godhra. As the train started leaving the station, someone pulled the chains just outside the railway station.
The driver of the train later stated that the chains had been pulled multiple times in an attempt to stop the train.
After the train was stopped, a mob of around 2,000 people, carrying weapons and petrol attacked the train. After stone-pelting, they locked the doors of the S6 coach from outside, poured petrol inside and set it on fire.
The police investigation revealed that Aman Guest house owner Abdul Razak Kurkur had arranged 60-litre patrol a day before the incident.