31 convicted, 63 acquitted in Godhra case

Press Trust of India Ahmedabad | Updated on February 23, 2011 Published on February 22, 2011

Upholding the theory of conspiracy, a special court today convicted 31 persons and acquitted 63 others, including key accused Maulvi Hussain Umarji, in the Godhra train carnage that killed 59 kar sewaks and triggered a mayhem in Gujarat that claimed over 1,200 lives, mainly Muslims, nine years ago.

After a less than two-year trial conducted inside the Sabarmati Central jail here, the Special Judge, Mr P.R. Patel, accepted the conspiracy theory that contrasts the finding of a Commission of Enquiry appointed by former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad which had held that the burning of Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express on Feb 27, 2002 was accidental.

The quantum of punishment would be announced on February 25 after hearing the 31 convicts under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) such as 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).

War of words

Today's judgement immediately sparked a war of words between the BJP, which is ruling Gujarat and whose Chief Minister Narendra Modi earned a lot of flak over the large-scale violence in post-Godhra.

The BJP claimed it was a vindication of its stand that the train carnage was a conspiracy while Congress said it does not wash the mass killings that followed Godhra.

The former CBI chief, Mr R.K. Raghavan, who heads the special investigation team (SIT) that investigated the incident, expressed satisfaction over the judgement.

Maintaining that the SIT would try to get justice in the other cases too, he hinted at challenging the acquittal in the train case in a higher court.

Scientific evidence, statement of witnesses, circumstantial and documentary evidence placed on record formed the basis of the over 850 page judgement. The trial began in June 2009 with the framing of charges against 94 accused in the carnage.

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Published on February 22, 2011
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