Riot-affected families file civil suit in Gujarat

Special Correspondent

AHMEDABAD: Twenty-one communal riot-affected families of the Gulbarg Society in Chamnpura locality in Ahmedabad filed a civil suit on Monday in the city civil court.

They demanded a compensation of Rs. 7 crores for damages suffered when they were attacked on the "Gujarat Bandh" day on February 28, 2002, in protest against the Godhra train carnage the previous day.

At least 38 persons, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri, were allegedly burnt alive, a large number of houses set afire and other property damaged in the attack by a violent mob on the Gulbarg Society that day. The bandh was called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and supported by the ruling BJP and other members of the Sangh Parivar.

The applicants have named the VHP, the RSS, the Bajrang Dal, the BJP and VHP international general secretary Pravin Togadia as the respondents, citing a landmark judgment of the Kerala High Court on July 28, 1997, in which it ruled that in the event of a "bandh," the persons and the organisations who give the call for it would be responsible for any damage to private and public property.

The judgment was also ratified by the Supreme Court.

Among those who have filed the civil suit was the son of the deceased former MP, Tanvir Jaffri.

Defence lawyer Mukul Sinha objected to the Government's stand, pointing out that the Central POTA Review Committee after careful consideration of the case had recommended its withdrawal against all the 131 accused and to try them under other clauses of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act.

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