31 convicted in Godhra carnage

Train attack pre-planned, rules judge

31 convicted in Godhra carnage

In this picture taken early 28 February 2002, a policeman looks towards a burnt train coach at Godhra Railway Station, Ahmedabad. AFP file photo

The court, however acquitted 63 others in the case, including one of the main conspirators, Maulana Umarji, and  Mohammad Hussain. The special court pronounced the verdict nine years after the attack  that left 59 people dead.

The sentence will be pronounced on February 25 after arguments on the quantum of punishment by the special court that accepted the theory of conspiracy behind the burning of the coach of the Sabarmati Express carrying kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya on February 27, 2002.

The court agreed that the conspiracy to set the coach on fire was hatched at Aman Guest House, belonging to one Razak Kurkur, and the fuel was also stored there. Kurkur and another prime accused Haji Billalhave been charged under Section 302 and 120 B of the IPC.

Salim Panwala, Faruq Bana, Salim Zarda and Salim Bana are among those who have been held responsible for hatching the conspiracy at the Guest House.

Special Public Prosecutor J M Panchal said the court upheld that the burning of the train was part of a pre-planned conspiracy.  “The conspiracy theory has been accepted by the court and 31 convicted of criminal conspiracy. The motive of conspiracy was to set the train on fire. The vestibule was cut and the coach was set on fire. The verdict is based on oral, scientific evidence and eyewitness accounts,” he said.

The trial conducted inside the Sabarmati Central Jail here began in June 2009 with the framing of charges against 94 accused in the carnage that had triggered widespread communal riots in Gujarat.

Defence lawyer I M Munshi said his clients would appeal against the verdict. “We are not satisfied with the judgment. There are many contradictions. We will wait for the quantum of punishment and then appeal in the higher court,” said Munshi.

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