24 con­victed for 2002 Gul­berg mas­sacre, 36 oth­ers ac­quit­ted

GU­JARAT RI­OTS Con­spir­acy charge dropped against all ac­cused, Zakia Jafri to ap­peal ver­dict

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Hi­ral Dave let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

AHMED­ABAD: A spe­cial court on Thurs­day con­victed 24 peo­ple in the mas­sacre of scores of Mus­lims in Ahmed­abad when com­mu­nal ri­ots trig­gered by the burn­ing of a train car­ry­ing Hindu ac­tivists swept through Gu­jarat in 2002.

The killing of 69 peo­ple in­clud­ing then Congress MP Eh­san Jafri in the pre­dom­i­nantly-Mus­lim Gul­berg So­ci­ety colony on Fe­bru­ary 28, 2002 was one of the worst sin­gle in­ci­dents in the days-long ri­ots that left more than 1,000 peo­ple dead in the state.

Out of 66 ac­cused in the case, the court ac­quit­ted 36 for lack of ev­i­dence. Five ac­cused died dur­ing the trial pe­riod and one went miss­ing.

The court, which con­victed eleven of mur­der and 13 for other crimes, will de­liver the quan­tum of pun­ish­ment on June 6. 59 ac­cused were present in court when the judg­ment was pro­nounced.

T he con­victed i ncluded Vishwa Hindu Par­ishad (VHP) leader Atul Vaidh and Congress coun­cil­lor Meghji Chaudhary. For­mer po­lice in­spec­tor KG Irda, who was ini­tially the com­plain- ant in the case and then made an ac­cused, was also ac­quit­ted.

“The de­fence ar­gu­ment that the mob was in­sti­gated af­ter Eh­san Jafri opened fire killing one per­son and in­jur­ing 14 must have held wa­ter and that is why the con­spir­acy the­ory has been re­jected,” said de­fence lawyer Ab­hay Bhard­waj.

Pros­e­cu­tion lawyer SM Vora, how­ever, said that since 11 ac­cused have been con­victed for mur­der “cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment can be sought”.

Af­ter the trial in the case ended in Septem­ber, the Supreme Court al­lowed the spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion team ( SIT) court to pro­nounce its judg­ment, set­ting a May 31 dead­line. More than 300 wit­nesses gave ev­i­dence in the case, one of the nine probed by the SIT formed on di­rec­tions of the Supreme Court.

Zakia Jafri, the slain Congress MP’s wife ex­pressed dis­may over the ver­dict.

“Mu­jhe aur jad­do­ja­had karna pa de ga… mera case khatam nahi hua ( I will have to make more ef­forts... the case is not over for me yet).”

CON­TIN­UED ON P9

RE­LATED RE­PORTS, P11

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