The Gujarat High Court Thursday awarded life imprisonment to 11 convicts for burning a man and his daughter to death in Mehsana district during the 2002 post-Godhra riots. The High Court reversed the order of a fast-track trial court which had acquitted all the accused in June, 2005, for want of evidence. This was challenged in the Gujarat High Court by the complainants and the state government.
The division bench of justice A S Dave and justice B N Karia pronounced the quantum of sentence while awarding life imprisonment to all the 11 convicts – Mukesh Amritlal Patel, Narendra Chimanlal Patel, Dinesh Jaswantbhai Patel, Kirit Somabhai Patel, Kirit Chandubhai Patel, Girish Ambalal Patel, Girish Chunnilal Patel, Mukesh Mahendrabhai Patel, Nilesh Naranbhai Patel, Janak Rameshbhai Patel and Mukesh Somabhai Patel.
The bench said that the sentences should run concurrently and not consecutively and ordered the convicts to surrender in 10 weeks.
Defence lawyer Bhavini Jani told the court that the four of the convicts hadn’t been traced.
Last month, the bench had found 11 accused, out of 27, guilty of killing Kalumiyan Saiyed and his daughter Haseenabibi on March 3, 2002 at Meda Adraj village in Kadi taluka of Mehsana district. The victims had run away from their house to their Hindu neighbour Joitaram Prajapati. But the mob broke open the door of Prajapati’s house and dragged Kalumiyan and Haseenabibi out in the compound and killed them. The incident was triggered by the Godhra train carnage incident on February 27, 2002, in which 59 kar sevaks were burnt to death.
While seeking life imprisonment, special public prosecutor J M Panchal argued that the two victims were chased by the mob, beaten up and killed in a brutal manner and therefore, severe punishment should be given. On the other hand, victims’ lawyer Iqbal Shaikh sought capital punishment. Following the brief hearing, the bench awarded life imprisonment to all the 11 convicts.
The court supported the prosecution’s claim that the man and his daughter were chased by the mob, dragged from their Hindu neighbour’s house and burnt to death.
According to the case details, the victims tried to douse the fire from a water tank in the compound of the Hindu neighbour, but the mob came back again and killed them.