The Gulbarg Society massacre, which took place on February 28, 2002 when Narendra Modi was the Gujarat Chief Minister, shook the nation when a mob of 400 people set about attacking the society in the heart of Ahmedabad and killed the residents including Congress MP Eshan Jafri. It was one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT. The prosecution and the victims had demanded that sentences awarded to all the accused should not run concurrently as all the 24 convicts will have to spend their entire life behind bars.
Here are top 10 highlights of today’s Gulbarg society massacre verdict:
1. Calling the Gulberg massacre as the “darkest day” in the history of civil society, a special SIT court 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.
2. The court rejected the demand for death sentence for all the convicts
3. Life imprisonment has been awarded to the 11 accused. Those given life sentence in the case are – Kailash Dhobi, Yogendra Shekhawat, Jayesh Jingar, Krishna Kalal, Jayesh Parmar, Raju Tiwari, Bharat Rajput, Dinesh Sharma, Narayan Tank, Lakhansinh Chudasama and Bharat Taili.
4. Mangilal Jain convicted for lesser offences was awarded ten year jail term
5. 12 others have been given seven-year sentence each. VHP leader Atul Vaid, Mukesh Jingar, Prakash Padhiyar, Surendrasinh Chauhan, Dilip Parmar, Babu Marwadi, Manish Jain, Dharmesh Shukla, Kapil Mishra, Suresh Dhobi, Ambesh Jingar and Sandeep Punjabi have been sentenced to seven years imprisonment each.
6. Post Gulberg massacre, 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
7. Earlier on June 2, the court had convicted 11 persons for murder and other offences, while 13 others, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, were charged with lesser offences.
8. 36 others have been acquitted in the case.
9. During the argument on quantum of sentence, special public prosecutor and counsel for Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), R C Kodekar had asked the court for nothing less than death sentence or jail term till death for all 24 convicts.
10. During the course of trial, as many as 338 witnesses were cross-examined, with four different judges having presided over the case.