Godhra Train Burning: Gujarat SIT Court Awards Life-Imprisonment To Two, Acquits Three
A SIT (Special Investigation Team) court in Ahmedabad on August 27 awarded life imprisonment to two convicts in the 2002 Godhra train burning case which left 59 ‘kar sevaks’ dead. Reportedly, three others were acquitted of their crime.
Two Convicts awarded life imprisonment in Godhra train burning
According to the Times Of India, Judge HC Vora awarded life sentences to Farooq Bhana and Imran alias Sheru Batik. They were awarded their punishments after it was established by the prosecution that they were the conspirators in the burning of the S6 coach that led to the death of 59 passengers, mostly Hindu devotees who were returning from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. However, three others – Hussain Suleman Mohan, Kasam Bhamedi and Faruk Dhantiya have been acquitted.
The five men were caught between 2015 and 2016, while the trial was held at a court set up at the Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad. Reportedly, eight others who are accused in the case are still absconding.
According to The Hindu, the court in 2011 had convicted 31 people with regards to the case. It later awarded death sentences to 11 of them and life imprisonment to 20 others. However, the Gujarat High Court in 2017 commuted the death sentences to life imprisonment and upheld the punishments awarded by the SIT to the 20 others.
What happened in 2002?
On February 27, 2002, a coach of Sabarmati Express was set on fire. This resulted in the death of 59 Kar Sevaks and 49 others were injured. At least 2,000 Kar Sevaks, who were returning from Purnahuti Maha Yajna at the insistence of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), were on the train. The Yajna was part of the Ram Temple Building ceremony.
After this incident, VHP called for a statewide bandh the next day. The VHP leaders also spread rumours about Muslims kidnapping three Hindu girls during the attack. Retaliatory attacks began and thus began the Gujarat riots of 2002 wherein total 790 Muslims and 234 Hindus were killed. The trial for the case began in June 2009 with over 134 people who were initially accused in the case. Moreover, two separate panels were also appointed to inquire into the case.