A special court here Tuesday sent to the gallows 11 people and
gave life imprisonment to 20 others for the February 2002 burning
of a train coach in Gujarat's Godhra town, in which 59 people were
killed triggering a communal frenzy that claimed an estimated
1,000 lives in the state.
The sentence was pronounced by special judge P.R. Patel in the
court within the high-security Sabarmati prison here.
The 31 people were convicted Feb 22 and held guilty of conspiring
and setting on fire S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express near the
Godhra railway station Feb 27, 2002. The train, carrying many
radical Hindu activists, was on its way back from Uttar Pradesh's
temple town Ayodhya.
The court had acquitted 63 others, including alleged mastermind
Maulvi Saeed Umarji.
Those sentenced to death are Ismail Sujela alias Haji Bilal, Razak
Kurkur, Ramzani Dinyamin Bera, Jabbir Dinyamin Bera, Mehboob
Hassan alias Latiko, Siraj Bala, Irfan Kalandar, Irfan Patadia,
Hassan Lalu, Mehboob Chanda and Salim Zarda.
While the prosecution sought death for the 31 convicted, arguing
that it was the "rarest of rare case", the defence appealed that
the convicts be spared the noose and sentenced to life in prison.
According to J.M. Panchal, special public prosecutor, this was
possibly the first case in the country when so many people had
been given the death sentence. He said those sentenced would have
90 days to appeal.
Lawyers for the prosecution Rajendra Tiwari and Parimal Pathak
added that the court considered it as the rarest of rare case and
believed the conspiracy theory forcefully advanced by the
The 31 men were held guilty of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity,
robbery and arson.
The Godhra train burning sparked the worst riots since partition
with at least 1,000 people being killed, mostly Muslims.