The Gujarat High Court commuted the death penalty awarded by a lower court to life imprisonment. The punishment awarded to 11 convicts in the 2002 Godhra train burning case were commuted on Monday.
This came more than two years after the hearing concluded in the Godhra train burning case. The Gujarat High Court pronounced the judgment on a clutch of appeal petitions challenging the special trial court’s sentencing.
The high court upheld the conviction of 20 other people who were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court which had in 2011 convicted the 31 people of murder and conspiracy.
The special court had acquitted 63 others due to lack of evidence, which notably included prime accused Maulana Umarji.
The Court further observed that the state government and the Railways failed miserably in maintaining law and order during the 2002 incident.
The HC then directed the government and the Railways to pay Rs 10 lakh each to the families of those killed in the Godhra train burning incident.
Godhra train burning incident
On the morning of February 27, 2002, a coach of the Sabarmati Express — Coach S6 — was set ablaze and 59 passengers traveling in that coach were charred to death.
The train had arrived at Godhra station in Gujarat just then. The victims included 27 women and 10 children. Injuries were suffered by another 48 passengers in the train.
The train burning incident had within hours triggered violent riots across the state. The riots broke out on the evening of February 2 and continued for 2-3 months across the state.
The Centre in 2005 informed Rajya Sabha that the riots claimed the lives of 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims. A total 223 people were reported missing. Tens of thousands were rendered homeless as well.
-with inputs from the Indian Express.