11 sentenced to life term for Gulberg massacre
12 others get seven years in jail and one a 10-year sentence
AHMEDABAD: A special court on Friday sentenced 11 people to life imprisonment for the murder of 69 people during the 2002 Gujarat riots, terming the Gulberg Society massacre as the “darkest day in the history of civil society”.
The court sentenced 12 other people to seven years in jail for arson and rioting while another was handed a 10-year sentence for the incident in Ahmedabad when communal riots swept through Gujarat after 59 Hindu activists were killed in the burning of a train in Godhra.
Justice PB Desai, however, acquitted 36 people including the alleged main conspirator and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillor Bipin Patel and rejected prosecutors’ claims that the attack on the predominantly Muslim residential area was planned.
Among those killed in the Gulberg incident — considered one of the worst single massacres during the post-Godhra bloodshed — was former Congress parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri besides women and children, most of whom were burnt to death.
Jafri’s wife Zakia said she was unhappy with the quantum of sentence and would challenge the order in a higher court.
“After so many people died, that’s all the court could decide? Just 11 guilty? I will have to fight this,” Jafri said.
The judge refused death penalty saying, “If you look at all aspects, no previous antecedent has been placed on record.”
CONTINUED ON P11