A special trial court today convicted 22 people,including a retired policeman,for the killing of 11 Muslims in Dipda Darwaja during the post-Godhra riots of 2002.
Twenty-one of them were sentenced to life,while former copManubhai Karsanbhai Patel got a years simple imprisonment for dereliction of duty. Sixty-one of the accused were acquitted.
Patel was the first investigating officer in the February 28,2002,massacre. Of the nine 2002 riot cases in which fresh investigation was conducted by the SIT,this is the first in which an investigating officer has been convicted.
The state failed to establish murder charge,which is why the other convicts 20 of them from the powerful Kadva Patel community were convicted for attempt to murder and arson. The court also shot down the charge of conspiracy in the killing.
Among the 61 acquitted were BJP MLA Prahlad Gosa and the then president of Visnagar Nagarpalika,Dahya Patel.
Dipda Darwaja,now only inhabited by Hindus,took the verdict in silence. Varshaben,the wife of convict Chimanbhai Kachrabhai Patel,said they would appeal against the verdict.
With the court rejecting the conspiracy charge,defence advocate G N Brahmbhatt said: The court has convicted the accused only for the injuries sustained by the witnesses.