31 Islamic Terrorists Convicted For Setting Fire to Sabarmati Express In Godhra, Burning Alive 59 Innocent Hindus
Posted by jagoindia on February 23, 2011
Godhra train attack was planned, says court, convicts 31, frees 63
Feb 23 2011
The special court here pronounced 31 accused guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy in connection with the Sabarmati train carnage in Godhra, in which 59 men, women and children, mostly kar sevaks of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, were burnt to death on February 27, 2002.
The attack, which the court ruled was an act stemming from a criminal conspiracy, triggered the subsequent communal riots in Gujarat, in which over 1,000 people were killed.
Special trial judge P R Patel acquitted 63 others who were chargesheeted. They include Maulvi Umarji, the prime accused. The pronouncement of the judgment started at around 11 am and lasted for half an hour.
The judgment was read out inside the high-security Sabarmati Central Jail today. The sentencing is scheduled for February 25. The minimum punishment the guilty could be given is life imprisonment; the maximum, death.
The court ruled that the fire in coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express was started after a criminal conspiracy hatched by the convicts to kill the passengers inside. A total 94 persons faced trial under the Indian Penal Code, Indian Railways Act, Prevention of Damage to the Public Property Act and the Bombay Police Act.
The accused were charged with pulling the chain of the train at Godhra station, pelting the train with stones near Signal Faliya, throwing burning rags and petrol inside the coach, cutting the canvas of the vestibule, forcibly entering the coach and dousing it with petrol from the inside.
They were also accused of collecting 140 litres of petrol on the night of February 26, 2002, and hiding it behind a local guest house, with the intention to attack the train the next day.
The charge was that they hatched the conspiracy out of communal grudge against a particular community.
The main convicts include Haji Bilal, a former member of the Godhra Nagarpalika and Abdul Razak Kurkur, owner of Aman Guest House. Besides Maulana Umarji, who was accused of instigating the others to set the train on fire, Mohammed Kalota, a former president of the Godhra Nagarpalika, was acquitted.
Thee trial was conducted inside Sabarmati Central Jail, as the state government had imposed Section 268 CrPC on the accused, restricting their mobility.
Special Public Prosecutor J M Panchal said the court had ordered the conviction of 31 accused on the basis of eyewitness accounts, testimony of railway employees, forensic evidence confirming the use of petrol, and circumstantial evidence.
Asked if he was satisfied, Panchal said, “There is no question of satisfaction… The court has given its verdict and we have to respect it.” Panchal declined to state whether the prosecution would demand capital punishment for the convicts.
Panchal was assisted by two Special Assistant Public Prosecutors, N N Prajapati and A Y Kogje. The prosecution examined 253 witnesses, around 20 of whom turned hostile. There were no defence witnesses.
Defence lawyers expressed satisfaction with the judgment. One of the chief counsel, A A Hasan said, “The 63 persons have been acquitted while accepting the defence arguments. Many of the accused were implicated in the case as part of political rivalry and that argument has been accepted by the court.”