A special trial court on Monday sentenced two persons to life imprisonment while acquitted three others in connection with 2002 Sabarmati Express train burning case at Godhra railway station that led to widespread communal riots in Gujarat. The five accused were arrested by different agencies between 2015-16 and were put on trial by Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Special Additional Public Prosecutor, N N Prajapati, said that the special court found Farukh Bhana and Imran alias Sheru Batik guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The judgment was pronounced from Sabarmati Central Jail where the trial took place.
Bhana, in his 50s, had been alleged as a key conspirator who was arrested by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad in May 2016. He was on the run since the day of the train burning incident in 2002. He was also the sitting corporator of Polan-Bazar area of Godhra municipality. It is alleged that on the night of February 26, Bhana and other accused had held a meeting at Aman Guest House near the railway station as part of their conspiracy to set ablaze the S6 coach of the train.
For almost a decade, he remained underground hiding his identity and would meet his family at different places. He was arrested from Panchmahal district from a toll plaza where he had come to meet his family members.
The convict Imran alias Sheru Batuk was also found guilty of conspiracy and being part of the mob which set the train on fire. He was arrested by Detection of Crime Branch, Ahmedabad in 2016 from Malegaon in Maharashtra. The three other accused including Hussain Suleman Mohan, Kasam Bhamedi and Faruk Dhantiya have been acquitted.
Earlier, in this case, special SIT court had convicted 31 people on March 1, 2011, out of whom 11 were awarded death sentence and 20 life imprisonment. The court also acquitted 63 people in the case. In October last year, the Gujarat High Court commuted the death sentence awarded to 11 convicts to life term while upholding the life sentence awarded to 20 others by the special SIT court in 2011.