Ahmadabad, June 17: Special SIT court of Ahmadabad on Friday gave life-imprisonment to 11 accused, seven-year jail term to 12 others and ten-year jail term to one person, while sentencing the verdict of punishment for 24 people found guilty in Gulbarg society massacre.
During the hearing earlier, the defence said the eight witnesses have not been able to recognize the convicts, adding minimum punishment should be given on this basis. Appearing for the accused, senior lawyer Abhay Bharadwaj had earlier said that they should be given a chance to reform themselves as they don't have past criminal records.
The prosecution had sought nothing less than death sentence or jail term till death for all convicts while the defence lawyers contested that the incident was spontaneous and there were enough provocations for it. Six accused had died during the trial. Of the 24 convicted today, 11 have been charged with murder, while 13 others have been convicted for lesser offences. VHP leader Atul Vaidya is among the 24 convicted in this case.
During the trial, riots victim's lawyer had argued that the massacre was a pre-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill minority community members of the Gulbarg Society. The defence had refuted the conspiracy theory of prosecution and claimed that the mob resorted to violence only after slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri fired several rounds on them.
The Gulbarg Society case is the eighth of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court appointed SIT. On February 28, 2002, during the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Gulbarg society was attacked by a 20,000-strong mob, which breached the boundary wall and started torching houses. Most of the houses were burnt.
By evening, 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri were charred to death. Hearing the mob, many of the residents took refuge in the home of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, but Jafri was unable to protect him and other residents of the society. Jafri was hacked to death and later burnt.
The mob had attacked Gulbarg a day after coaches of the Sabarmati Express train were burnt at Godhra station leaving 59 people dead. The Gulbarg Society was a cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings in Chamanpura locality of Ahmedabad. The society was housing upper middle class families, mostly belonging to the minority community. The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station, where in 58 'karsevaks' were killed.