Godhra train carnage: 2 more get life sentence, 3 acquitted

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Ahmedabad: Two more accused in the 2002 Godhra train carnage incident were awarded life imprisonment by a special SIT court here today, taking the total number of convictions in the case to 33.

Fifty-nine ‘karsevaks’ were killed in the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002, triggering the worst communal riots in the history of Gujarat in which over 1,000 people, mostly belonging to the minority community, were killed.

Special judge H C Vora convicted Farooq Bhana and Imran Sheru and awarded them life sentence after the prosecution established their role as conspirators in the burning of two coaches of the Sabarmati Express.

The court also acquitted three other accused, identified as Hussain Suleman Mohan, Kasam Bhamedi and Faruk Dhantiya.

These five men were apprehended in 2015-2016 and the trial was held at a special court set up at the Sabarmati Central Jail here.

Mohan was arrested from Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, Bhamedi from Dahod railway station in Gujarat, Dhantiya and Bhana were nabbed from their houses at Godhra in Gujarat, while Bhatuk was caught at Malegaon in Maharashtra.

Eight accused in the case are still absconding.

Earlier, the special SIT court had convicted 31 people in the case on March 1, 2011.

The court had later awarded death sentence to 11 of them and life imprisonment to 20 others.

However, the Gujarat High Court had in October 2017 commuted the death sentence of 11 convicts to life imprisonment while upholding the punishment awarded by the special SIT court to 20 others.

Judge Vora pronounced his order today after considering the deposition of 37 witnesses and evidences given during the hearing of the case, which were reproduced before the court by the prosecution.

Special public prosecutor J M Panchal said the government will decide whether to appeal against the acquittal of three of the accused.

One of the accused, Sabir Pataliya, had died after suffering a heart attack in January this year while he was lodged at the Sabarmati jail. PTI