A designated fast track court in Mehsana on Monday sentenced 21 persons to life imprisonment and another to one-year imprisonment in the Dipda Darwaja post-Godhra massacre case. Designated judge S.C. Srivastava acquitted 61 persons.
None of the accused was found guilty of murder or pre-planned conspiracy and the conviction was on the charges of attempt to murder and rioting. Among those acquitted were the former MLA from Visnagar, Prahladbhai Mohanlal Patel, popularly known as Gosa Patel, and a former president of the Visnagar municipality, Dahyabhai Patel, both of the BJP. The former inspector, M.K. Patel, was among those convicted found guilty of dereliction of duty and was awarded one-year imprisonment.
A family of 11 persons, including four children and a 65 year-old woman, was killed in the mob attack at a house in the Dipda Darwaja locality at Visnagar town in north Gujarat on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train carnage.
Dipda Darwaja was one of the nine cases investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team, headed by the former CBI Director, R.K. Raghavan.
While 10 of the accused were given complete acquittal, 51 others including the two BJP leaders were given the benefit of the doubt.
In all, 127 people, including eight eyewitnesses, were examined during the trial. All those convicted, including the former inspector, belonged to the “Patel” community.
The police had initially booked 83 persons for murder, attempt to murder, rioting, kidnapping and such other charges. But later on the direction of the court, following an appeal by one of the witnesses, the former BJP MLA and the former police inspector were also booked. The court, however, found one of the accused to be a minor at the time of the incident and sent him to the juvenile court for a separate trial, while one of the accused died during trial.