HC spares noose for Godhra train attack convicts

HC spares noose for Godhra train attack convicts
Gujarat High Court on Monday commuted death sentence of 11 convicted for burning of S6 coach of Sabarmati Express near Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002, leading to ghastly deaths of 59 persons, to life sentence.

The train burning had triggered massive communal riots across the state of Gujarat, leading to deaths of another about 1000 people. The incident also changed the narrative of polity in Gujarat and the country going forward.

A total of 130 persons were accused, of which 94 persons stood trial on charges of murder and conspiracy. Of these 63 were acquitted by special court in 2011. The special court had pronounced life sentence for 20 and death sentence for 11 persons. This was challenged in the Gujarat High Court, which heard the petition and kept its sentence reserved for last two-and-a-half years.

The Gujarat High Court on Monday, while refusing to change the verdict on 63 acquitted, also ordered the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of the kar sevaks who were killed in Godhra train burning incident. The judges also expressed regret for delay in pronouncing the judgment.

“There seems to be some discrepancies in the investigation. Nothing can be done about the way it was investigated but even with this investigation if court has found a conspiracy in the incident, we expected strictest punishment,” Vijay Patel, lawyer representing victims of Sabarmati Express burning.

“Partially we are satisfied as the court has upheld the incident as a planned conspiracy but sad that strictest punishment has not been given...We will go to Supreme Court,” Patel said.

‘Govt must appeal against order’

VHP chief Pravin Togadia on Monday said the Gujarat government should appeal against the Gujarat High Court order commuting the death sentence of those convicted in the Godhra train burning case to life imprisonment. Seeking capital punishment for convicts in the 2002 carnage, he said the state government should appeal in the Supreme Court before Diwali for the sake of justice to devotees of Lord Ram.
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