Gulbarg society massacre: A special SIT court on Friday pronounced the quantum of sentence for 24 convicts in the Gulbarg Society massacre in which 69 people, including former Congress lawmaker Ehsan Jafri, were killed. A Ahmedabad court awarded life imprisonment for 14 years to 11 people who were held guilty of murder in the Gulbarg society massacre case. Twelve persons guilty of arson and rioting were sentenced to seven years jail. One convict was awarded 10 years imprisonment.
While describing the massacre as the darkest day in the history of civil society, Special court Judge P B Desai refused death penalty saying, “If you look at all aspects, no previous antecedent has been placed on record”.
Here are updates on Gulbarg society verdict
2.40 pm: I’m reasonably satisfied, even though we asked for death sentence and that wasn’t given: Former SIT chief R K Raghavan
12.35 pm: Shabnam Hashmi: I don’t believe in death penalty, I wouldn’t say judgement should have been death
12.31 pm: The trial court, acquitted 36 accused, including a BJP local leader Bipin Patel and former police inspector K G Erda, giving them the benefit of the doubt due to lack of evidence
12.30 pm: The court dropped the conspiracy charge for lack of evidence
12.25 pm: Prominent among the convicts is Atul Vaidya, a local VHP leader, who has been found guilty of arson and rioting but not murder
12.19 pm: They brutally killed Ehsan Jafri, this is quantum of sentence? They should have all got life imprisonment: Zakia Jafri
12.17 pm: Relatives of convicts in Gulberg society massacre: We will appeal in higher courts. Our relatives are innocent.
12.15 pm: We are not for revenge verdict but reformative justice. On compensation, don’t know what judge said: Teesta Setalvad
12.15 pm: We welcome the judgement but we are disappointed in the lesser sentence: Teesta Setalvad
12.14 pm: Court said this 2002 incident was the darkest day in civil society: RC Kodekar, Public Prosecutor
12.00 pm: Zakia Jafri on the Gulbarg society massacre verdict: This case is not over for me, we are right where we started
12.00 pm: Zakia Jafri on the Gulbarg society massacre verdict: I am not happy with the verdict. This is not justice
11.30 am: Ruling out capital punishment to any of the convicts, the court said “the accused posed no danger to the society.” The court has also urged the government to not pardon any of the convicts awarded life imprisonment by the trial court.
11.19 am: 1 convicts given 10 year jail term
11.18 am: 12 convicts given 7 year jail term
11.17 am: 11 convicts sentenced to life by Ahmedabad Court
Reactions to Gulbarg society massacre verdict
“Zakia Jafri, the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was among the 69 killed in Gulberg society massacre, today expressed dissatisfaction over the verdict in the case, saying the court did “injustice” to her.
She also said that she will approach the high court against the verdict of the special SIT court which today sentenced 11 convicts to life imprisonment in the case.
Zakia is particularly unhappy with the seven-year jail term awarded to 12 convicts and 10-year sentence to one other convict, who were held guilty for lesser offences not including murder. She is also miffed with the acquittal of 36 others in the case.
“I don’t understand why 11 were given life imprisonment and some are given just seven or ten years of imprisonment. Why this selective approach as they all were part of a violent mob which killed people inside the society. This is wrong justice. The court did injustice to me,” Zakia said while talking to reporters.
“I was there in the society when the violent mob brutally killed my husband (Ehsan Jafri). He was an MP, yet he was hacked to death and burnt alive in the middle of road. Today’s verdict is not sufficient for such crime. I wished that court had given lifer to all of them who were involved in the crime,” she said.
According to her, those who were acquitted were also guilty and should be punished.
“My fight for justice will continue. Why these 36 were acquitted? Did they save any resident of the society? They were also part of the mob. I am not at all satisfied with today’s verdict. I will approach the high court against it, Zakia said.
A special SIT court here today sentenced 11 convicts to life imprisonment in the case of burning alive of 69 people, including former Congress MP Eshan Jafri, in the 2002 post-Godhra violence.
The court awarded ten-year jail term to one of the 13 convicted for lesser offences while 12 others have been given seven-year sentence each.
However, her son Tanvir Jafri said there was definitely “some sense of closure” at the convictions but it would have to be seen why some of the accused were not convicted.
“We will definitely contest in the High Court some of the acquittals,” he said.
Former SIT chief R K Raghavan who had probed the incident, welcomed the judgement.”
24 of 66 people who stood trial in the Gulbarg society Gujarat riots case have been convicted, 11 of them for murder, by an Ahmedabad court today. Bipin Patel, a four-time BJP corporator and among the key accused, is among 36 people who have been acquitted. Kailash Dhobi, among those convicted under major offences and a prime accused arrested in 2002 who jumped temporary bail in February this year, surrendered before the court on June 13 after the judge concluded hearing on the quantum of sentence.
Post the incident, 90 per cent of the accused were released on bail, yet no complaints against them have been given even by victims, and there is no record to show that they committed any offence during the time of bail, the judge further said, while giving reasons why he thought that this was not a fit case to give capital punishment to the convicts.
The court said it has decided to award imprisonment for life without any time frame to 11 accused, who have been convicted for murder, while requesting the state not to use its power to remit the sentence after 14 years of imprisonment.
“CrPC provisions give power to the state to remit sentence after 14 years jail, section 433-A imposes some restriction on that power. In case the state does not exercise power to remit the sentence, life imprisonment will mean that it is till death,” the court said.
“I cannot add beyond what has been prescribed under section 302, it is not necessary for a state to exercise power to remit sentence, state may not exercise power of remittance,” the judge said, adding the court’s direction cannot be binding as he cannot take away the executive powers of the state.
As regards the 13 others accused convicted for lesser offences not including murder (302), the court awarded 10 years imprisonment to one Mangilal Jain, while 12 others were awarded seven-year sentence each.
During the argument, public prosecutor representing the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), RC Kodekar asked the court for nothing less than death sentence or jail term till death for all 24 convicts.
Lawyer for the victims, SM Vora also sought maximum punishment for the accused and argued that sentencing for each offence should not run concurrently so that they spend their entire life in jail.
Lawyer of the accused, Abhay Bhardwaj, has refuted the demand of capital punishment or maximum punishment in his arguments saying that the incident was spontaneous and there were enough provocations for it.
The Gulbarg Society case is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court appointed SIT.
The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station, where in 58 ‘karsevaks’ were killed.
Ahmedabad was put on high alert ahead of the verdict, which special judge P B Desai would deliver after a trial that has lasted seven years.
Among the 66 accused, five died during the trial, which has been conducted under four judges. As many as 338 witnesses were examined in the case, the only one in which then CM Narendra Modi was questioned as Zakia had levelled charges of a larger conspiracy.
A mob of over 20,000 people had attacked the Gulbarg society in Chamanpura area a day after 59 people were charred to death near Godhra on February 27, 2002.
Thirty-nine bodies were found while 31 people including Jafri and 14-year-old Parsi boy Azhar Mody went missing. Seven years later, 30 of the missing were declared dead. The one left, Muzaffar Shaikh, was found alive in 2008. He was being brought up by a Hindu family and had been renamed Vivek.