Sardarpura Riots 2002
The Gujarat High Court has acquitted 14 people who were convicted in post-Godhra Sardarpura massacre. The massacre took place in retaliation of Godhra riots in Mehsana district of Gujarat where 33 members of the minority community were burnt alive on the night of February 28, 2002.
14 out of 31 people are acquitted due to unsubstantial witnesses and lack of evidence. Harsha Devani and Biren Vaishnav, a division bench of justices gave “benefit of doubt” to 11 out of 14 people while the remaining three were given a clean chit. The bench has confirmed the life imprisonment of the remaining 17.
The special court had announced its verdict in 2011. It termed this incident as 31 accused were acquitted then, and the other 31 were given life imprisonment. The High court also rejected the plea against 31 acquittals. The plea which was moved by the Special Investigation Team appointed by Supreme Court and the families of victims was also rejected by the High Court on Thursday.
The senior lawyer Yogesh Lakhani who represented the 31 petitioners said that the detailed order would be available after Diwali vacation and that the High Court has removed the charges under Section 295A(hurting religious feelings), 336 and 337(Act of endangering life and personal safety of others) of Indian Penal Code, as reported by The Indian Express.
What are Post Godhra riots?
33 members of the minority community were burnt alive by the mob at Sardarpura in Vijapur taluka of Mehsana district on the night of February 28, 2002. The event was triggered when 59 people died in a fire inside a Sabarmati Express train near Godhra railway station in Gujarat.
The Sardarpura massacre was the first of the nine post-Godhra riots cases which were probed by The Special Investigation Team.