The riots which shatters India and left behind many people killed, not only this it has also raised questions on Indian Democracy during the 2002 Gujarat riots which leads in Gulberg Society massacre case.
Read about what is basically Gulberg Society massacre case is?
The Gulbarg Society massacre took place on 28th February 2002, during the 2002 Gujarat riots, when a Hindu mob attacked the Gulbarg Society, a Muslim neighbourhood in Chamanpura, Ahmedabad.
Most of the houses were burnt, and at least 35 victims including a former Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, were burnt alive, while 31 others went missing after the incident, later presumed dead, bringing the total deaths to 69.
The Supreme Court of India had stayed the trial in major Gujarat cases on petitions filed by the National Human Rights Commission and the Citizens for Justice and Peace, who sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and transfer of the cases outside Gujarat.
The SC bench on 26th March 2008, directed the Gujarat government to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by R. K. Raghavan, a former head of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case.
It reopened nine crucial riot cases. Seven years after the incident, in February 2009, Erda, the Deputy Superintendent of Police with the Gujarat Police at the time was arrested on charges of dereliction of duty and for tampering with evidence, as some survivors alleged that he not only allowed the killings to happen but also helped rioters to burn the dead bodies.
The SIT finally submitted its report on 14th May 2010 to the apex court registry of the Supreme Court, after which the Supreme Court asked the SIT to look into the doubts raised by amicus curiae Raju Ramchandran.
SIT submitted its entire report including case papers, witnesses’ testimonies and other details on 15th March 2012.
The Society, with most of the houses damaged or burnt, was later abandoned. Of the eighteen houses which were burnt, only one has been repaired. Although none of the families returned, some of them congregate each year on the anniversary of the event and offer prayers.
Now Justice finally comes in Gulberg Society massacre: 24 convicted, 36 let off in Gulberg Society massacre case
After 14 long years, a special Gujarat sessions court on Thursday convicted 24 people, including Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Atul Vaidya, in the sensational Gulberg massacre case in which 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were burnt alive on February 28th, 2002.
Special sessions court judge P.B. Desai declared 36 of the 60 accused as ‘not guilty’.
The court also rejected the prosecution’s conspiracy charge in the case.
An armed mob had set on fire the entire Gulberg Housing Society in Ahmedabad’s Meghaninagar area, inhabited by members of the minority community, in broad day light killing 69 people.
While the charred bodies of 39 people were found from the spot after the arson, 30 other people were declared dead by the Special Investigation Team as there was no trace of them 12 years after the incident.
The sessions court judge will pronounce the sentences on the convicts on June 6th.
Of the 24 people convicted, the court found 11 persons guilty of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and 13 others guilty of lesser crimes.
All the 60 accused remained present in court while their family members thronged the court compound in large numbers.
The court had heard the case on a day-to-day basis on the instructions of the Supreme Court, which on February 22nd this year, directed the sessions court to pronounce its verdict in three months time.
The Gulberg massacre case is one of the nine major cases of the 2002 Gujarat violence which were probed by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Earlier, the apex court while instructing the special court to expedite the hearing of the case had also said that the judgment should not be pronounced without its permission.
The SIT had named 66 accused in the case. Nine of them have been in jail for the last 14 years, while the remaining were out on bail.