A special trial court in Ahmedabad is likely to pronounce quantum of punishment to the 24 convicts in Gulbarg society massacre case on Friday.
On June 2, the trial court had found 24 of the accused guilty in the case involving the brutal massacre of 69 persons including a former parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri on February 28, 2002.
Of 24 convicts, 11 persons were found guilty of murder while remaining 13 were convicted for other charges like arson, rioting and unlawful assembly. The court acquitted 36 persons including a former police official and a local BJP leader for want of evidence against them.
The court, however, dropped the conspiracy charge against the accused in the case.
Subsequently on June 6, the prosecution asked for capital punishment of life imprisonment till death for the convicts while describing the massacre as a "case of mass murder and rarest of rare."
The special public prosecutor of SIT, RC Kodekar, had told the special court that capital punishment for the 24 convicted was justified as the Gulbarg massacre was the 'rarest of the rare'.
"The crime is rarest of the rare because the victims were roasted to death and their only crime was that they belonged to the minority community", he told the judge PB Desai, who has conducted the trial in the case.
The court on Monday had adjourned the hearing till June 9 as 2 ½-hour arguments on the quantum of sentence remained inconclusive. On Thursday too, the arguments remained inconclusive so the court had deferred the hearing and pronouncement of order for Friday.
In Thursday, Abhay Bhardwaj, appearing for the convicts, pleaded the court to show leniency while passing its verdict on quantum of punishment to the 24 persons who have been found guilty by the trial court.
He also stressed on the fact that the court itself had ruled out any conspiracy in its verdict delivered on June 2, so the case does not fall in the category of ‘rarest of the rare.’
“If the state can't establish that the convict is a menace to society, then capital punishment should not be considered,” he argued, opposing the submission by the prosecution that the capital punishment should be awarded to those found guilty of mass murder.
As per case details, out of 39 bodies recovered after crime, 20 were women and six children. Most families of Gulbarg Society lost their kith and kin, while three families lost all members.
After the bloodbath that lasted more than seven hours, only 39 bodies were recovered, and 31 were declared missing, of which one boy was found alive. The other 30 were declared presumed to be dead after seven years.
Among those 30, 14 were women and eight were children.