Gulberg Society massacre: 11 get life imprisonment

Ahmedabad, June 17:  A special SIT court on Friday awarded life imprisonment to 11 convicts, seven years jail to 12 and 10 years prison to one person convicted in the Gulbarg Society massacre case. The special trial delivered its verdict on Friday on the quantum of sentence to 24 convicts, who were found guilty on June 2. The court also charged 13 others, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, with lesser offences and acquitting 36 others. None of the convicts were given capital punishment.

Sixty-nine people, including former Congress lawmaker Ehsan Jafri, were killed in a mob attack on the building on 28 February, 2002, a day after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station, in which 58 kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya died.

A prime accused in the case, Kailash Dhobi, who had been arrested in 2002 but jumped his temporary bail this February, surrendered before the court on 13 June.

On June 13, the court announced that it would pronounce the sentence on June 17. Earlier, the trial court judge P.B. Desai concluded hearing on sentence by the prosecution agency SIT and lawyers representing victims as well as the convicts.

The public prosecutor representing the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team, RC Kodekar, had asked the court for the death sentence or jail term till death for all 24 convicts. He was backed by SM Vora, the victims’ lawyer, who also sought maximum punishment for the accused, and argued that the sentencing for each offence should not run concurrently so that they spend their entire life in jail.

About 400 people had attacked the Gulberg Society at the start of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Of the 66 accused named by the SIT in the case, nine are in jail, while others are out on bail.