Ahmedabad, June 1: A special Ahmedabad Court on Thursday convicted 24 in the Gulbarg society riots case while 36 were acquitted. The Court have charged 11 people with attempt to murder while 13 others are charged with other sections of IPC. The verdict of punishment will be declared on June 6. The special court's verdict came 14 years after the incident in which 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri were charred to death.
Among the 66 accused, five died during the trial, which has been conducted under four judges. Nine of the accused are behind bars since 14 years, while others are out on bail. One of the accused, Bipin Patel, who is a BJP councillor, has been acquitted. He is a sitting BJP corporator from the Asarwa area. He was accused of being part of the mob and was charged with murder. Patel was the corporator in 2002 too and has won multiple elections since.
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. However, Jafri's wife Zakia today expressed her dissatisfaction over court's verdict, saying, "I am very unhappy with the judgement. I will carry on the fight, will do whatever it takes."
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.
Thirty-nine bodies were found while 31 people including Jafri and 14-year-old Parsi boy Azhar Mody went missing. Seven years later, 30 of the missing were declared dead. The one left, Muzaffar Shaikh, was found alive in 2008. He was being brought up by a Hindu family and had been renamed Vivek. Collectively, the riots in Gujarat in 2002 claimed over 1,000 lives and injured over 2,000 people. As per official numbers, 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus died during the rioting period.