The Gujarat High Court will pronounce its verdict on a set of appeals challenging convictions and acquittals by a special SIT court in the 2002 Godhra train coach burning case.
Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express, in which 59 people, mostly ‘kar sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya were travelling, was burnt on 27 February, 2002 at the Godhra station, triggering riots in the state.
A day after the train burning, statewide protests had started allegedly with the support of the government machinery headed by Narendra Modi, now India’s prime minister. More than 4,000 people, mostly Muslims were killed although official numbers puts the number of people killed at 1200.
The special SIT court had on 1 March, 2011 convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 in the case. While 11 people were sentenced to death, 20 were given life in jail.
Later, several appeals were filed in the High Court challenging the conviction, while the state government had questioned the acquittal of 63 people.
The court had convicted 31 people while accepting the prosecution’s contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident.
All the 31 were convicted under IPC sections related to murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.
Those acquitted included the prime accused, Maulana Umarji, the then president of Godhra Municipality Mohammad Hussain Kalota, Mohammad Ansari and Nanumiya Chaudhary of Gangapur, Uttar Pradesh.
The Nanavati Commission, appointed by the Gujarat government to probe the carnage, had concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach was not an accident, but it was set ablaze.