April 14, 2012 5:55:10 am
The Vadodara Central Jail in the heart of the city was as sleepy as ever on Friday morning. However,at 12 noon,guards became alert as a white mini bus,carrying 23 convicts of the 2002 Ode massacre case,entered the prison complex.
This is the same jail where 31 convicts of the Godhra train burning case are lodged.
As soon as the police party escorting the 23 opened the bus gate,the convicts all Patels from Ode town in Anand district started hurtling towards the gate of the main building,even as policemen cautioned them to be patient as 61-year-old Harish Patel fumbled.
On Thursday,additional sessions judge Poonam Singh had sentenced Patel and 17 others to life imprisonment for murder of and conspiring to kill 23 Muslims in Pirawali Bhagol area of Ode on March 1,2002 during the post-Godhra riots. Five other convicts were handed seven years of rigorous imprisonment for attempt to murder,arson and making provocative statements.
Of the 23 brought to the Vadodara jail,one is in his 70s,four in 60s,six in 50s,seven in 40s and five in 30s.
Most of them carried bags of a popular gutkha (tobacco) brand,an indication they are tobacco farmers,while others hung plastic bags on their arms.
Even after accepting the custody of the convicts,authorities at the Vadodara Central Jail were not sure where the new inmates would be lodged. Their confusion was obvious as the jail,which has a capacity of accommodating 955 prisoners,is already housing 2,215 inmates. They will be given cells with the rest of the prisoners, said jail superintendent R F Sangada. Later in the day,sources said that they were accommodated in cell numbers 1 to 12.
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