Godhra train burning: Death sentences of 11 commuted to life
The Gujarat High Court has commuted the death sentence awarded 11 persons to life in the Godhra train burning case of 2002. The court also confirmed the life sentences awarded to 20 persons in this case.
The court also directed the state government to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the family of the deceased stating that the state failed to maintain law and order.
A special trial court had on March 1, 2011, convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 in the case. Of the 31 convicts, 11 were sentenced to death and 20 were given life in prison. All the convicts had appealed their conviction.
As per Monday's order, all 31 convicts will now serve out their lives in prison for attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy in setting ablaze a coach of the Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002 at Godhra station.
The case dates back to February 28, 2002, where 59 kar sevaks, who were returning from Ayodhya, had lost their lives when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was set ablaze at Godhra Railway Station, which triggered large scale riots in the state in which around 1,000 people, mostly of minority community, were killed.
In 2011, the trial court had convicted 31 accused and acquitted 63 persons, including Maulana Hussain Umarji, who was dubbed by the Gujarat police as the 'mastermind' of the carnage. The accused were convicted under the murder and conspiracy provisions of Sections 302 and 120B of the IPC respectively and some sections of the Railway Act and Police Act. Out of the 31 accused, 11 were given the death penalty, while the rest were awarded life imprisonment.
The verdict was challenged by the state government and the convicts before the Gujarat High Court on April 6, 2011.On February 25, 1,700 people, a mix of pilgrims including karsevaks had boarded the Sabarmati Express which was bound for Ahmedabad. On February 27, the train, which was about four hours late, made a stop at Godhra.
As the train started leaving the station, someone pulled the chains just outside the railway station. The driver of the train later stated that the chains had been pulled multiple times in an attempt to stop the train. After the train was stopped, a mob of around 2,000 people, carrying weapons and petrol stormed attacked the train. After stone-pelting, they locked the doors of the S6 coach from outside, poured petrol inside and set it on fire Gujarat train burning incident had sparked communal violence in the state in which more than 1,000 people were killed and more than 3,000 injured.