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Updated: April 12, 2012 12:59 IST

23 convicted, 23 acquitted in post-Godhra riots case

Manas Dasgupta
Comment (33)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Convicts in the 2002 Ode massacre case wave to their relatives from a police vehicle as they leave the special fast track court in Anand on Monday. (Below) Their relatives react to the judgment. Photos: AFP & AP
Convicts in the 2002 Ode massacre case wave to their relatives from a police vehicle as they leave the special fast track court in Anand on Monday. (Below) Their relatives react to the judgment. Photos: AFP & AP

A special fast track court here on Monday convicted 23 persons of murder, conspiracy and abetment to murder and acquitted 23 others in the 2002 Ode communal riot massacre in Gujarat.

District and Sessions Court judge Poonam Singh said the sentences would be announced on April 12.

The Ode riot — in which 24 people were burnt alive in two incidents by a mob on March 1 and 2, 2002 — was one of the nine cases investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team.

There were 47 accused, and one died during the trial. Section 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code (conspiracy) has been applied to all 23 convicted, while 18 have also been convicted of the charge of murder, four of abetment to crime and one of unlawful activities.

According to the prosecution, a 1,500-strong mob gathered in Ode village on March 1, 2002, and started throwing stones and damaging the property of the people in the minority community-dominated Suriewali Bhagol. A handful of policemen present lobbed teargas shells and then opened fire to disperse the mob. The people dispersed, but the death of a boy, Nishith, in the police firing sparked tension.

The rioters soon regrouped and turned their ire on the police. The police picket was virtually overrun by the mob; two policemen were seriously injured and the remaining four or five were chased out. The mob later gheraoed the Muslim residents at Pirawali Bhagol, where they took shelter in a three-storey building. The mob bolted the main door of the building from outside, threw in petrol and kerosene in water pouches and then torches, setting the entire building ablaze

A few managed to jump out and escape and later became eyewitnesses, but 23 of them perished. The next day, as a mob conducted the funeral procession of Nishith, it set fire to some shops and vehicles of the minority community. An 80-year-old Muslim unfortunately came in their way, trying to save his goats. The mob threw him into the fire, caused by the burning vehicles.

While the Mumbai-based Citizens for Justice and Peace welcomed the judgment and thanked the “courage and sacrifices” of the witnesses for standing up despite heavy odds, the State government spokesman and Health Minister, Jaynarayan Vyas, said the judgment was a “slap” in the face of those who “relentlessly tried to defame Gujarat, the State government and the State police” as well as the SIT, raising questions about the impartiality in the investigation of the riot cases.

I know few of the victims as well as people who got convicted in this crime in ode village. There was a crowd of nearly 1500 people when this horrific act against humanity took place. Most of the people came from outside town.People who got convicted were living either next door to burned house or opposite burned house. Could these people convicted were actually trying to stop outsider to stop this crime? Why would some one burn house next door to there own while putting his family and his own house in danger? Why SIT not caught a single person from outside this town.Was this verdict the easiest to give on account of just one or two witness who can only recognised people they know in that crowd? No one should be punished unless court can prove beyond doubt that these were the real criminal.If this judgement is the result of political pressure then innocent people were convicted which is a big misjustice to family of people convicted as well as family of victims of this riot.

from:  rajan
Posted on: Apr 12, 2012 at 00:42 IST

State sponsored organized terror attack?, "I don't mean to defend actions of people who commited violence here" but let's not forget when muslims were in power, they weren't as nice and non-violent as they believe everyone should be. When Timur walked in delhi in 1398, he gave orderd to butcher 100000 so called infidels and idolaters hindus, and i quote him here "on the great day of battle these 100,000 prisoners could not be left with the baggage, and that it would be entirely opposed to the rules of war to set these idolaters and enemies of Islam at liberty...no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword". I know not a single apology every issued from a leading member of muslim community for complete destruction of this land and it's people (their wealth, honour and dignity). Where is the justice for those victimes?

from:  sumit kumar
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 23:27 IST

I couldn't appreciate the journalism by THE HINDU, considered to be the most reputed tabloid of India. What harm will it make if the author had added just one extra line in his article, mentioning the conviction and judgement of criminals involved in the Godhra incident?
It would have avoided many hate comments above. Is THE HINDU trying to create sensation just like other tabloids in india?

from:  John
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 17:49 IST

It's an state sponsored organized terror attack on minority. I am like any common man in India have lost faith in this judiciary system already. It always looked like there is an authorized organization to kill innocents primarily Muslims in India and they will never be convicted.

from:  Mohamed
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 14:47 IST

What about justice to 84 riot victim ? more people were killed in 84 riot than 2002 riot but still none of them got justice ?? why Testa & her Gang who make their living out of bashing modi & BJP, dont work for 84 victims ? WHY ONLY 2002 ????

from:  Amit A
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 12:39 IST

I fully agree with the comments of Ninad . No doubt what happened in Godhra was a gruesome tragedy - but that cannot rationalise (leave alone justify) the mindless acts of violence that followed. Merely asking "what about Godhra" , everytime the genocidal attacks in Gujarat are disussed - stems from hatred towards a community and not from any genuine concern for the Godhra train victims. Some readers who have commented here do not even realise that the people behind Godhra violence are already behind bars.

from:  Hariharan
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 12:36 IST

Riots of this kind are probably the worst kind of black marks for a
democracy. It is not just the people at the lowest level, but the
politicians of the highest level who gave their support to this
gruesome act and failed to take action against the culprits later too
should be punished. People who point at the Sabarmati express burning
fail to realize the difference between acts of goons and acts of a
State. The State is supposed to be the protector and impartial in
delivering its duties. There was a very clear misuse of power by the
State government during those riots. It is analogous to the situation
where a parent beats up one of his kids in favour of the other. The
State is like a parent to its citizens, who are like its kids. All
such incidents of the past like 1984 and 1992 riots too should be
brought to justice, where the State has misused its powers.

from:  Dileep Kumar Patchigolla
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 11:54 IST

All religions lead to GOD, just the ways to approach are different. So
where's the reason to fight. Apart from other things, people should be
watchful about NGO's like "CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE & PEACE". Going through
their site, it is entirely about MODI and GUJRAT Bashing. Why they are
so actively working towards causing communal disharmony or is it that
this is the only way to keep their dollar funding's alive. There are
other parts of the country which require Human Rights attention and just
accusing select governments of human rights violation will not suffice.

from:  Savitha
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 11:28 IST

It is unfortunate that in this country those who start the riots never get punished. Corrupt politicians just for the sake of votes are killing people. Govt is partial towards some communities so as to please them. every action has equal and opposite reaction, then why not those who started killing people gets punished. what about those who burned the train where lots of people died?.

from:  Reetu
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 11:01 IST

The judgement will certainly give a little sense of satisfaction to anyone who has a sane mind, respect for law, and above all, love for life (his/her own or others'). The accused have got their due, and it is a strong message to those who look to spread disharmony and hatred. And it is a victory to all those who have suffered greatly, and those tenacious people who have stood behind the victims for a decade now.

from:  Balagopal P. Menon
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 10:25 IST

It's a shame that educated people also get into the communal trap and discriminate fellow
citizens based on faith.

from:  Z. Patel
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 10:23 IST

After so many years of freedom India still remains in the shackles of
casteism,racism,discrimination endangering the prosperity and integrity
of the country. More importantly the precious human life is being put
under axe by the ill minded people who indulge in these undutiful
malignant acts. Furthermore the problem needs to be meted out by so
called responsible citizens of India who should come forward and uproot
the problem out of the country.

from:  Abhijeet
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 09:27 IST

This verdict is too late but commendable, atleast hope is still alive.

from:  mohit soni
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 09:21 IST

Every person thinks that his religion alone is superior,but not the tolerance, every
religion teaches.

from:  M.sankaralingam
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 08:27 IST

Its a shame that Mr Gaman Chopra doesn't know that the verdict in Godhra
train carnage is already delivered - 11 accused were awarded the capital
punishment and 20 were sentenced to life imprisonment and 63 of the 94
accused were acquitted.

from:  A Rizvi
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 07:38 IST

Mr. Gaman, the culprits behind the dastardly torching of the Godhra
express have been caught, tried and convicted.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 07:10 IST

Gaman, 31 people were convicted last year for the Godhra train burning case. This is already an emotional issue for the public, so comments here shouldn't spread misinformation.

from:  Samanar
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 07:08 IST

With regards to the first poster, the people who burnt the train at Godhra are all in jail too. The two groups can meet up there and carry on their arguments further or just get bored with it.

from:  Ashok
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 06:33 IST

It is a good verdict. But the idiotic nature which Indians have towards
their 'religion' still remains. Religion is truly opium for people in
India, who have forgotten to move ahead with times.

from:  Gautam
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 06:27 IST

Dear Gaman, People who burnt the train have already been charged and in jail.

from:  sameer
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 05:51 IST

It is very unfortunate that only 23 people were convicted and the others are left free. All those who were not brought to justice are dangerous and may fan another round of violence on minorities especially with the electons around the corner. All the conecerned people including those in power irrespective of the postion in Gujarat government should be brought to justice at once to regain the confidence of minorities in the state.

from:  Tony
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 02:39 IST

It speaks volumes for the legal process in India that a 'fast track court' delivers judgment on crimes perpetrated almost 10 years ago!

from:  Cato R Natarajan
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 02:34 IST

The communal incidents were sparked when a mob delibrately set fire to the three bogies carrying about 60 men, women and children after locking the doors of the compartment. There seems to be no justice for these 60 innocent persons.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 02:28 IST

As the victims in the Godhra incident were Hindus, they will have the same fate as the Kashmiri Pandits.

from:  Senapathy
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 02:19 IST

Plenty of people continue to talk about the burning of the train carriage. The real shame is that some people cannot bring themselves to express anguish and horror at the genocidal violence that was unleashed after the Godhra event. What may or may not have happened at Godhra cannot and ought not be used to justify cold-blooded and retributional violence.

from:  Ninad
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 00:05 IST

What about Majority community riot victims ,Do they also get any justice.

from:  Prashanth Reddy
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 23:47 IST

I culprits should be always punished though delayed. I would also like
to see the Culprits who burned Godhra Train to be convicted as well.
Hope is very less that the Godhra culprits will be convicted since the
dead were poor spainless majority.

from:  Pavan
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 23:35 IST

Two wrong does not make anything right!

from:  Himanshu
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 22:34 IST

@gaman
they have already been convicted and behind bars. Do your homework before posting comments.

from:  Sameer
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 21:03 IST

Its a shame that every one talks about riot victims, but no one talks
about giving justice to the people who were burned alive in train
near godhra railway station.

from:  Gaman Chopra
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 19:34 IST

At least in Gujarat the job is done. What about Maharashtra? No
progress in the post 1992 riots, police bias and other issues brought
out by Sri Krishna commission. Why no attempt by human rights
activists to get a supreme court SIT? Is it because only the 'non
secular BJP' should be pursued?

from:  T N Rengarajan
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 16:36 IST

Justice was done.Crimes against humanity should be dealt mercilessly in a stipulated time,not years.People should be punished accordingly,no Hindu,No Muslim...No caste..No region.

from:  SrinivasaVarma
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 16:21 IST

Will this reduce future riots or assuage the hatred and suspicion engendered by past riots? Do differential laws help?

from:  S. Suchindranath Aiyer
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 14:15 IST
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