Bilkis Bano case: 13 convicted, 7 acquitted

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Mumbai, Jan 18: The special CBI court here today convicted thirteen persons, including a police officer, holding them guilty in the infamous Bilkis Bano gangrape and massacre case in Gujarat in the aftermath of the Godhra carnage. The quantum of the sentence, however, will be pronounced on January 21.

The case was transferred to Maharashtra from Gujarat following a Supreme Court directive after Bilkis Bano expressed doubts about a free trial in Gujarat. Fourteen members of Bilkis Bano's family were killed in the massacre. Bilkis Bano, who was six months pregnant at that time, had survived the attack.

Additional Sessions Judge U D Salvi, who presided over the case, convicted thirteen of the accused while acquitting seven others, including a doctor couple who had been charged with tampering with the evidence.

Among those to be convicted are Jaswant Chatur Nai, Govind Nai, Naresh Ramlal Mordhiya, Shailesh Chimanlal Bhatt, Radheshyam Bhagwandas Shah alias Lala Vakil, Bipinchandra Kanaiyalal Joshi alias Lala Doctor, Keshar Khima Vohania, Pradip Ramanlal Mordhiya, Baka Khima Vohania, Raju Babulal Soni, Mitesh Chimanlal Bhatt, Ramesh Chandana and Soma Koya Ghori.

Narpatsingh Ranchod, Idris Abdul Sayyed, Bhikha Ramji Patel, Ramsingh Mitlibhai Bhabhor, B S Bhagora, Dr Arunkumar Ramkrishan Prasad and Dr Sangeeta Prasad were acquitted.

The incident had occurred at Radhanpur village in Gujarat's Dahod district on March 3, 2002. Though Bilkis Bano survived the attack, she had been gangraped. Among those killed were Bilkis Bano's three-year-old child, her mother and two sisters.

The CBI had filed a chargesheet against 20 people, including six police personnel, and the doctor couple. One of the accused, Naresh, had died during the course of the trials.The cops were booked for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy, suppressing and destroying evidence, and falsifying records.

The Supreme Court had handed over the investigations in the case to the CBI in December 2003 following National Human Rights Commission's intervention. The CBI had exhumed the skeletons of the massacre victims and discovered that the local police had buried the bodies with salt to speed up their decomposition. The Bilkis Bano case was the second post-Godhra case to be transferred out of Gujarat after the Best Bakery case.

UNI

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