Ahmedabad, June 17 : Fourteen years after a mob massacred 69 people at the Gulberg Society here, a court on Friday sentenced 11 of the 24 convicts to life imprisonment.
A Special Sessions Court also sentenced one person to 10 years and 12 others to seven years in jail.
Calling the day of the killings “the darkest day in the history of civil society”, Special SIT Court Judge P.B. Desai handed down life imprisonment to the 11 persons on charge of murder.The one sentenced to 10 years was charged with attempt to murder.
reacting to the verdict Madam Zakia Jafri whose fierce and determined battle led to some culprits going behind the bar said, “I don’t understand why 11 were given life imprisonment and some are given just seven or ten years of imprisonment. Why this selective approach as they all were part of a violent mob which killed people inside the society. This is wrong justice. The court did injustice to me,” Zakia said while talking to reporters.
“I was there in the society when the violent mob brutally killed my husband (Ehsan Jafri). He was an MP, yet he was hacked to death and burnt alive in the middle of road. Today’s verdict is not sufficient for such crime. I wished that court had given lifer to all of them who were involved in the crime,” she said.
According to her, those who were acquitted were also guilty and should be punished. “My fight for justice will continue. Why these 36 were acquitted? Did they save any resident of the society? They were also part of the mob. I am not at all satisfied with today’s verdict. I will approach the high court against it, Zakia said.
Twelve others, including Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Atul Vaidya, who were found guilty of crimes like rioting and arson, were awarded seven years in prison.
Significantly, the court had thrown out charges of conspiracy in the gruesome killings and refused to treat the case as “rarest of the rare” as asked by the prosecution and the counsel for the victims. As many as 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed on February 28, 2002 when an armed mob some 20,000-25,000 strong attacked the Gulbarg Society inhabited by Muslims.
It was one of the most horrific outbursts of violence during the 2002 Gujarat riots which were sparked off by a train burning at Godhra that led to the death of 59 Hindus, mostly VHP supporters. On June 2, the court convicted all 24 of the 60 accused while finding 36 not guilty.
The court held further hearings for three separate sessions before handing down the sentences on Friday.
Those sentenced to life imprisonment are Kailash Lalchand Dhobi, Yogendrasinh alias Lalusingh Shekhawat, Jayesh Kumar alias Gabbar Jigar, Krishna Kumar alias Krishna Munnalal, Jayesh Ramji Parmar, Raju alias Mamo Kaniyo, Naran Sitaram Tank, Lakhan Singh alia Lakhiyo, Bharat alias Bharat Teli Shital Prasad, Bharat Laxmansingh Rajput of VHP and Dinesh Prabhudas Sharma.
Mangilal Dhoopchand Jain was sentenced to 10 years.
The 12 sentenced for seven years are Surendra alias Vakil Digvijaysinh Chouhan, Dilip alias Kalu Chaturbhai Parmar, Sandeep alias Sonu Ram Prakash Mehra, Mukesh Pukhraj Sankhla, Ambesh Kantilal Jigar, Prakash alias Kali Khengarji Padhiyar, Manish Prabhulal Jain, Dharmesh Prahladbhai Shukla, Kapil Devnarayan alias Munnabhai Mishra, Suresh alias Kali Dahyabhai Dhobi, Atul Indravadan Vaidya of VHP and Babubhai Hastimal Marwadi.
Meanwhile former senior Gujarat police officer, R.B. Sreekumar, on Friday said he was disappointed by the verdict on the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre that left 69 people dead.
“The verdict is disappointing and sad,” Sreekumar told the media here. “Look, 69 people lost their lives and just 11 have been given life imprisonment. This is wrong,” said Sreekumar, who hails from Kerala and lives in Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
Sreekumar was the Additional Director General of Police in Gujarat when the incident took place. A special court in Ahmedabad on Friday gave life imprisonment to 11 of the 24 persons convicted in the massacre of 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, at the housing society. Twelve convicts got jail for seven years and one was sent to prison for 10 years.
Sreekumar said the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by R.K. Raghavan, formerly of the Central Bureau of Investigation, which probed the case functioned as a “special immunization team” to give then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit.
(With inputs from Hindustan times)