Published on: APRIL 20, 2018
written by: SRUTHI RADHAKRISHNAN for The Hindu
Of the nine cases relating to the Gujarat riots of 2002, six have seen judgments delivered, including the Naroda Patiya massacre case. The Bilkis Bano case has been re-opened after the Supreme Court transferred it to Maharashtra. Here is where these cases stand now:
The Gujarat High Court on April 20, 2018, upheld Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi’s life sentence, while commuting his sentence to 21 years in jail, and acquitted former Minister Dr. Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Patiya massacre case. It also upheld the conviction of 11 others by a special court. Dr. Kodnani's personal assistant, Kirpal Singh Chabda, was also among the 16 acquitted.
In August 2012, the special court had sentenced 32 people, including Dr. Kodnani and Bajrangi. Dr. Kodnani was sentenced to 28 years in jail. The court acquitted 29 others for want of evidence.
Ninety-seven people were killed in the massacre
The Gujarat High Court on October 20, 2016 upheld the conviction of 17 persons while acquitting 14 persons, who were previously convicted by a trial court, in the post-Godhra Sardarpura massacre case. Thirty-three persons of a minority community, comprising more than 20 women and children, were burnt to death by a rioting mob on March 1, 2002.
The Sardarpura massacre case was one of the nine cases probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team headed by the former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan.
In 2011, a special trial court convicted 31 persons for the brutal massacre and awarded life imprisonment to them. The convicts had challenged the trial court verdict before the High Court in 2012.
The trial in this case, relating to massacres in the Naroda Gaam area of Ahmedabad, where 11 persons were killed, is still underway. This is the only case among those re-investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT where the trial is underway.
The special designated court conducting the trial had summoned BJP president Amit Shah to depose before the court as a defence witness on September 18, 2017, to corroborate Dr. Kodnani’s statement. Backing her alibi, Mr. Shah told the court that he had “seen Mayaben Kodnani inside the Assembly at 8.30 a.m. and again at the Sola civil hospital around 11-11.15 a.m. and then they were both escorted out by the police.”
The Gulberg Society massacre happened on February 28, 2002, when a mob attacked Gulberg Society, a Muslim neighbourhood in Chamanpura, Ahmedabad.
Most of the houses were burnt, and no less than 35 victims, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were burnt alive, while 31 others were presumed dead, bringing the total death count to 69.
On June 17, 2016, the special court in Ahmedabad pronounced life imprisonment to 11 convicts in this case, while 12 others were awarded seven years in prison. One person was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. BJP corporator Bipin Patel was among the 36 acquitted in the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre case by the trial court.
The verdict in this case, in which the Sabarmati Express train in Godhra carrying kar sevaks was burnt on February 27, 2002, was delivered on March 1, 2011.
The trial was completed and 11 of the accused were sentenced to death while 20 others were awarded life imprisonment by the POTA court on March 1, 2011. Sixty-three accused were acquitted, including Maulvi Umarji, who was named as the main conspirator.
In this case, in which 23 persons were killed in a village near Anand town in central Gujarat on March 1, 2002, the verdict was delivered on April 12, 2012.
The trial court convicted 23 persons while acquitting the same number of accused. Of the 23 convicted, 18 were awarded life imprisonment while the remaining five received seven years imprisonment.
A family of 11 persons, including four children and a 65 year-old woman, was killed in a mob attack at a house in the Dipda Darwaja locality at Visnagar town in north Gujarat on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train carnage.
In the verdict delivered by a special court in Mehsana on July 30, 2012, 22 persons were convicted, of which one died during the trial while the remaining 21 were awarded life imprisonment for attempt to murder. The murder charge and criminal conspiracy could not be proved in the case.
On March 3, 2002, Bilkis Bano, who was then 19 and pregnant, was raped during the riots that broke out in Randhikpur village in Dahod district. In 2008, a sessions court had awarded life imprisonment to 11 men, of which three were convicted of raping Bilkis.
The Supreme Court had ordered a CBI probe into the case and shifted the trial to Maharashtra.
The Best Bakery, in the Hanuman Tekri area of Vadodara, was attacked by a mob, which burned down the bakery, killing 14 people on March 1, 2002. Of the 17 accused, nine were convicted and sentenced to life by a special court in Mumbai in 2006.
The Supreme Court had ordered a re-trial of this case too, transferring it to Maharashtra. The Bombay High Court set aside the trial court verdict and acquitted five, while upholding the conviction of four in July 2012.