Ahmedabad, June 17 (IANS) Fourteen years after a mob massacred 69 people at the Gulberg Society here, a court on Friday sentenced 11 of the 24 convicts to life imprisonment.
A Special Sessions Court also sentenced one person to 10 years and 12 others to seven years in jail.
Calling the day of the killings “the darkest day in the history of civil society”, Special SIT Court Judge P.B. Desai handed down life imprisonment to the 11 persons on charge of murder.
The one sentenced to 10 years was charged with attempt to murder.
Twelve others, including Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Atul Vaidya, who were found guilty of crimes like rioting and arson, were awarded seven years in prison.
Significantly, the court had thrown out charges of conspiracy in the gruesome killings and refused to treat the case as “rarest of the rare” as asked by the prosecution and the counsel for the victims.
As many as 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed on February 28, 2002 when an armed mob some 20,000-25,000 strong attacked the Gulbarg Society inhabited by Muslims.
It was one of the most horrific outbursts of violence during the 2002 Gujarat riots which were sparked off by a train burning at Godhra that led to the death of 59 Hindus, mostly VHP supporters.
On June 2, the court convicted all 24 of the 60 accused while finding 36 not guilty.
The court held further hearings for three separate sessions before handing down the sentences on Friday.
Those sentenced to life imprisonment are Kailash Lalchand Dhobi, Yogendrasinh alias Lalusingh Shekhawat, Jayesh Kumar alias Gabbar Jigar, Krishna Kumar alias Krishna Munnalal, Jayesh Ramji Parmar, Raju alias Mamo Kaniyo, Naran Sitaram Tank, Lakhan Singh alia Lakhiyo, Bharat alias Bharat Teli Shital Prasad, Bharat Laxmansingh Rajput of VHP and Dinesh Prabhudas Sharma.
Mangilal Dhoopchand Jain was sentenced to 10 years.
The 12 sentenced for seven years are Surendra alias Vakil Digvijaysinh Chouhan, Dilip alias Kalu Chaturbhai Parmar, Sandeep alias Sonu Ram Prakash Mehra, Mukesh Pukhraj Sankhla, Ambesh Kantilal Jigar, Prakash alias Kali Khengarji Padhiyar, Manish Prabhulal Jain, Dharmesh Prahladbhai Shukla, Kapil Devnarayan alias Munnabhai Mishra, Suresh alias Kali Dahyabhai Dhobi, Atul Indravadan Vaidya of VHP and Babubhai Hastimal Marwadi.