Godhra train burning: death for 11, life for 20 (Second Lead)By IANS
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
AHMEDABAD - A special court here Tuesday sent to the gallows 11 people and gave life imprisonment to 20 others for the February 2002 burning of a train coach in Gujarat’s Godhra town, in which 59 people were killed triggering a communal frenzy that claimed an estimated 1,000 lives in the state.
The sentence was pronounced by special judge P.R. Patel in the court within the high-security Sabarmati prison here.
The 31 people were convicted Feb 22 and held guilty of conspiring and setting on fire S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express near the Godhra railway station Feb 27, 2002. The train, carrying many radical Hindu activists, was on its way back from Uttar Pradesh’s temple town Ayodhya.
The court had acquitted 63 others, including alleged mastermind Maulvi Saeed Umarji.
Those sentenced to death are Ismail Sujela alias Haji Bilal, Razak Kurkur, Ramzani Dinyamin Bera, Jabbir Dinyamin Bera, Mehboob Hassan alias Latiko, Siraj Bala, Irfan Kalandar, Irfan Patadia, Hassan Lalu, Mehboob Chanda and Salim Zarda.
While the prosecution sought death for the 31 convicted, arguing that it was the “rarest of rare case”, the defence appealed that the convicts be spared the noose and sentenced to life in prison.
According to J.M. Panchal, special public prosecutor, this was possibly the first case in the country when so many people had been given the death sentence. He said those sentenced would have 90 days to appeal.
Lawyers for the prosecution Rajendra Tiwari and Parimal Pathak added that the court considered it as the rarest of rare case and believed the conspiracy theory forcefully advanced by the prosecution.
The 31 men were held guilty of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity, robbery and arson.
The Godhra train burning sparked the worst riots since partition with at least 1,000 people being killed, mostly Muslims.