No conspiracy, rioters intended to kill:Sardarpura verdict

No conspiracy, rioters intended to kill:Sardarpura verdict

Mehsana's Principal District and Sessions Judge, S C Srivastava, convicted 31 and acquitted 42 in her ruling yesterday. Thirty-three persons were killed at Sardarpura village in Mehsana district on March 1, 2002.

In the judgement, the judge has said the Special Investigation Team (SIT) could not establish any criminal conspiracy. "The main motive was to take revenge on Muslim community as `Kar Sevaks' were burnt alive on Sabarmati train at Godhra and this motive is proved from evidence...also, it is not challenged," Srivastava observed.

She has rejected the accused's defence that they did not have the intention of killing the members of the minority community. The court said burning the house, in which the victims had taken shelter, was the easiest way of causing damage to persons and creating more fear in the mind of minority community-members.

"It cannot be said that the object of the unlawful assembly was not to take the lives of any persons." Members of the mob were clearly aware that several persons were inside the house and yet the house was set on fire, the judgement notes.

"The act of setting on fire the house in Shaikh Mohalla, specially Mahemudmiya's house, is indicative of the intention or at least the knowledge necessary to constitute the offence of murder."

The judgement rejected the defence that there was no sufficient light/visibility for the witnesses to have a good look at the accused. "The incident had lasted for a long period, more than an hour. There was sufficient opportunity for the witnesses to see the offenders. More particularly, when the mob was from the same locality," the court concluded.

As to the credibility of witnesses who identified the accused at the trial but not at the time of giving statements to the police in 2002, the court said the witnesses cannot be discredited for delay in identification.

"There is nothing contradictory, incredible, improbable or inconsistent in their evidence." "Considering the whole evidence of the witnesses, all have avoided attributing false overt acts to the accused identified, which would have been quite easy for them," the court notes.