A special trial court on June 2 will pronounce its verdict on Gulberg Society Massacre case in which 69 people including ex Congress Parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri were killed in Ahmedabad. The judgment was awaited since September 2015 following conclusion of the trial.
There are 66 accused in the massacre which occurred on February 28, 2002 a day after Sabarmati Express train was burnt at Godhra railway station in which 59 people were killed. During the trial which started in 2009 four of the accused died.
One of the accused, Bipin Patel, is a sitting BJP corporator from Asarva seat who won the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation election in December last year, his fourth consecutive win on a BJP ticket. He was the BJP corporator in 2002 as well when the riots broke out at the society.
The SIT had argued that a day after train burning incident, a mob of around 20,000 to 22,000 had gathered at the Gulberg Society, a posh Muslim locality in Meghaninagar, and gutted the society in a killing spree in which 69 people died. The SIT has relied upon 24 witnesses implicating all the accused directly and their testimonies have been supported by medical evidences and other circumstances leading to the incident.
According to SIT possession of lethal weapons, swords, lathis, kerosene and petrol proved the fact that most of the victims were burnt alive. It was argued during the trial that most of the dead bodies found were charred meaning that prior to their deaths they were brutally assaulted and then set ablaze. 39 bodies were found from the scene while missing were presumed to be dead, including Jafri.
Jafri’s widow Zakia has filed a case against the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, now the Prime Minister, and others for allegedly orchestrating the riots. The case was investigated by the SIT that gave clean chit to Modi in 2012 while SIT’s report was upheld by a metropolitan magistrate in 2014. The court held that there was no material evidence against the accused. Zakia then moved a petition in the high court challenging the order where the matter is pending.
This case is one of the nine major rioting cases which were taken over by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) for further probe. Out of nine cases Naroda Patiya, Ode (two cases), Dipda Darwaja, Sardarpura, Prantij and Godhra train carnage cases have been decided by the courts and except Prantij riots case a large number of accused were convicted. The ninth case naroda gam is undertrial.