11 sentenced to life in Gulberg massacre case
Calling Gulberg massacre the “darkest day” in the history of civil society, a special SIT court today awarded life term to 11 convicts for burning alive 69 people, including former Congress MP Eshan Jafri, in one of the worst riots post-Godhra violence in 2002.
However, the judgement left the prosecution, Jafri’s widow Zakia and civil rights activists disappointed saying it was lenient on the perpetrators of the worst type of violence in a residential colony in Gujarat’s capital.
Rejecting the demand for death sentence for all the convicts, the court said life imprisonment for the 11 will be till death if the state does not exercise power to remit the sentence, which Special court Judge P B Desai said was not necessary.
It awarded ten-year jail term to one of the 13 convicted for lesser offences while the other 12 have been given a seven-year sentence each. The prosecution had argued that all the 24 convicts should be given death penalty.
While describing the massacre as the darkest day in the history of civil society, the judge refused death penalty saying, “If you look at all aspects, no previous antecedent has been placed on record”.
Post the incident, 90 per cent of the accused were released on bail. Yet no complaints against them have been given even by victims, and there is no record to show that they committed any offence during the time of bail, the judge further said, while giving reasons why he thought that this was not a fit case to give capital punishment to the convicts.