[Zakia Jafri with activist Teesta Setalvad in a file photo]
Surat/Mumbai/Ahmedabad: Expressing disappointment with the acquittal of 36 people in connection the 2002 post-Godhra riots case of Gulbarg Society, former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri's wife Zakia Jafri on Thursday said that her fight would continue.
Recalling the horrific incident, she told ANI in Surat that the accused should have been given some strict punishment.
"The accused should have been punished as only then they would have understood the severity of their crime", Zakia said.
"I'm not asking for capital punishment, but at least there should be some strict action against them. If they stay ten-twenty years away from their family and children, they will understand the pain of separation," she added.
Activist Teesta Setalvad on Thursday expressed surprise over the court dropping charges of criminal conspiracy against the 24 convicts in the Gulberg Society massacre case, saying the witness accounts and documentary evidence suggested a wider conspiracy.
“I have been told that the conspiracy hasn’t been accepted, which is strange as we believe there are enough evidences that were laid, the eyewitness accounts and the documentary evidence suggest wider conspiracy,” Setalvad told ANI.
Citing the Naroda Pattaya case judgment of August 29, 2012, Setalwad said Maya Kodnani, a former minister, was convicted and the judge held that there was a wider conspiracy in the case.
“Naroda Pattaya is just 2 km from Gulberg Society, so it is strange that there is a political conspiracy and here it is not, but that is how our struggle goes on,” she added.
Setalwad also said they have a legal right to appeal in higher court, adding they have two more levels, the High Court and Supreme Court, to go.
“We are also disappointed that the sitting corporator against whom we believe there was strong evidences has also been acquitted,” she said.
The activist said the case is not about the individual, but about a wider message.
“We do believe that incidents that took place in Gujarat were part of some carefully thought conspiracy and there are evidences in this regard. We are not about to give up the struggle right now,” she added.
Meanwhile, former IPS officer turned lawyer Y.P. Singh lauded the Gujarat Police while calling the verdict to be satisfactory and a reasonable step in the right direction.
"It is in given circumstance that in mob violence cases, it is not easy to get convictions. Mumbai riots were much more serious, but they were unable to get such type of conviction. But in Gujarat's society case if this has happened, certainly this is a very good achievement on behalf of the Gujarat Police," Singh told ANI in Mumbai.
"Such investigations are conducted amidst a lot of adverse circumstances and these things happen at the spur of the moment and with the passage of time the witnesses do not support the prosecution case," he said.
"Not withstanding such negative factors if Gujarat Police has done the investigation and based upon the SIT investigation if the conviction has been achieved, I think this is certainly a reasonable step in the right direction," he added.
A special SIT court in, Gujarat, Ahmedabad, earlier in the day convicted 24 of the 66 accused in the 2002 post-Godhra Gulberg society riots case, which left 69 people including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri dead.
Special Court Judge P.B. Desai also acquitted 36 others, including sitting BJP corporator Bipin Patel, and also dropped the conspiracy charge against all accused.
The court said there is no evidence of criminal conspiracy in the case, while dropping Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Out of the 66 accused, six had died during the trial. Of the 24 convicted today, 11 have been charged with murder, while 13 others have been convicted for lesser offences.
The 24 convicted includes VHP leader Atul Vaidya. The quantum of punishment for those convicted in the case will be delivered on June 6.