Godhra riots: two get life sentence, three acquitted

Godhra riots: two get life sentence, three acquitted

A special trial court in Ahmedabad on Monday sentenced to life imprisonment two of the five accused of burning S6 bogey of Sabarmati Express train near Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002, killing 56 people.

The incident later led to a massive communal conflagration in the state of Gujarat that saw scores dead.

“Two of the accused – Imran alias Sheru Batik and Farukh Bhana have been sentenced to life imprisonment for their role in Godhra train burning incident,” N N Prajapati, Special Additional Public Prosecutor told reporters outside Sabarmati Jail premises, where the trial took place.

The special court on Monday also acquitted three others - Hussain Suleman Mohan, Kasam Bhamedi and Faruk Dhantiya. All five men were nabbed by investigating agencies between 2015 and 2016 after they had gone missing since the 2002 train burning incident.

Bhana, who is in his '50s, was stated to be key conspirator in the train burning and was arrested by the Anti-Terrorist Squad of Gujarat in May of 2016. A sitting corporator of Godhra municipality in 2002, Bhana was said to be part of a meeting held at Aman Guest House near Godhra railway station on February 26, 2002. It was in this meeting that the conspiracy is said to have been hatched to set a coach of Sabarmati Express, carrying Kar Sevaks from Ram temple in Ayodhya back to the state, ablaze the next day.

Bhana was arrested from Panchmahals district toll plaza as he was trying to sneak in to meet his family.

The other convict, Imran, too was found guilty of conspiracy and being part of the mob which set the train on fire. He was arrested from Malegaon in Maharashtra in 2016 by Ahmedabad Crime Branch.

Earlier convictions

Bhana and Imran are in addition to 31 others convicted in the case so far. Earlier in March  2011, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) court had sentenced 11 persons to the death penalty and 20 others to life imprisonment. The Gujarat High Court had in October last year commuted the sentences of 11 from death to life imprisonment.