October 09, 2017: Gujarat High Court is likely to pronounce its judgment on the 2002 Godhra train carnage today. In the horrific incident, 59 passengers were charred to death at the Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002. On that fateful day, Karsevaks were returning in Sabarmati Express to Ahmedabad.
The trial of the sensitive case was conducted in-camera at the Sabarmati Jail by the special designated court. In 2011, the special court in its verdict had concluded that it is rarest of rare case had convicted 31 accused and acquitted 63 others including main accused Maulana Umarji. Out of 31 convicts, 11 were awarded death penalty and rest 20 were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The special court’s verdict was challenged by the state government and the convicts before the Gujarat High Court on April 6, 2011. The state had appealed for the confirmation of the special court order, whereas convicts had pleaded for quashing of the convictions. The matter was listed before the division bench of justice AS Dave and justice GR Udhwani.
Submission on the appeal began on March 5, 2014 and was argued for over a year. On May 5, 2015, after submission of the all parties concerned concluded, the division bench reserved the order.
Sabarmati Express was late on February 27, 2002. According to the prosecution’s case, as per pre-planned conspiracy, the chain was pulled just outside the railway station and mob armed with lethal weapon and carrying petrol attacked the train.
They pelted stone and locked the doors of the S6 coach from outside. They poured petrol inside the coach and set it on fire. 59 passengers in the coach died after suffering severe burn injuries and suffocation.
According to police investigation, Aman Guest house owner Abdul Razak Kurkur had procured 60 litre patrol from a fuel pump on February 26.
He had hatched the conspiracy to attack the Sabarmati Express train at his guest house along with Bilal Hussain Kalota. The other accused according to the police investigation was Maulana Umarji.
The probe said that on the morning of February 27, he had appealed people from minority community using the mosque loud speaker to gather and rush to railway station.
Interestingly, the trial court has acquitted him. After acquittal he died due to old age. However, Kurkur and Kalota with 29 others were convicted for hatching conspiracy and for murder.
The special court’s additional sessions judge PR Patel while accepting prosecution theory of pre-planned, had passed verdict running in 850 pages in 2011. The first part of judgment of conviction was announced on February 22 and quantum of punishment on February 25.