May 19, 2006 2:46:09 am
What proved to be the clincher in this case was the DNA test. Four years after they hacked a man to death in the aftermath of Godhra, a fast track court today convicted four men and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Two others, also accused of butchering Devanand Ambalal Solanki, a surveyor at the sales tax office, were acquitted.
Special City Sessions Judge D T Soni sentenced the accused — Faqruddin Kamruddin Mirza, Mohammed Zaheer Abdul Aziz Ansari, Zakir Husain Mehboob Husain and Mohammed Afzal Mohammed Taufiq Sheikh — to life imprisonment. In the judgment, the court observed ‘‘… though awarded imprisonment for life, however, the convicted persons shall be kept in jail till their whole life.’’
This post-Godhra riot case is the first in Gujarat where scientific evidence (DNA tests) nailed the guilty. The accused were booked under various sections of IPC 364, 201, 302 and Bombay Police Act. A fine of Rs 5,000 each was also ordered, failing which the accused would have to undergo another six months imprisonment.
The court issued perjury notices on three witnesses, Dilip Nanji Solanki, Ravindra Kumar Mafatlal Parmar and Rehman Rasul Mansuri, who turned hostile during proceedings. According to the prosecution, the motive behind the murder was ‘‘retaliation’’ for killing of Muslims during post-Godhra riots.
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Solanki was forcibly taken away by a group of people from near his residence in Vaghriwas on March 30, 2002, at around 10 pm. His body was found in a pit near Vankarvas on April 12, 2002. His body was cut into more than 30 pieces after which acid and salt were dumped on it.
Police, along with a magistrate and other witnesses, dug up the place to recover the remains and called in forensic experts to check whether it was Solanki’s body. The weapons used by the accused, all in the age group of 20-25 years, to kill Solanki were also found by the police from Vankarvas where they had been hidden. They include a butcher’s knife (used by Mirza), a wooden stick (Ansari), a hockey stick (Mehboobhusain) and a sword (Sheikh).
Circumstantial evidence was taken into consideration and DNA samples taken from blood found on the weapons were matched with Solanki’s DNA. Forensic tests had earlier been conducted to prove that the body was Solanki. Public Prosecutor K L Trivedi said: ‘‘Samples from bone marrow were taken so that DNA tests could be conducted. It was found that Solanki’s family members’ DNA matched the DNA samples. Trivedi said, ‘‘The FSL report also made it clear that acid and salt were used to speed up decomposition of the body. The court also considered corroborative evidences.’’
A witness, Vishwanath Kantilal Shrimali, who had seen the four accused dragging Solanki away, recognised them in court. Three other witnesses who turned hostile will be heard on perjury charges on June 14. Trivedi said the court took cognisance of the SC order in the Best Bakery case.
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