A special SIT judge Desai on Friday awarded controversial judgement by sentencing 11 convicts responsible for burning 69 people alive just life sentence and seven and 10 years jail term for the remaining 13.
This is bound to raise questions about the credibility of judiciary in a state, which has already been notorious for its questionable integrity in providing justice to the victims of India’s own holocaust.
Reacting to Friday’s verdict, the widow of Ehsan Jafri, Zakiya Jafri said she was not happy with the sentencing.
She said, “I am not satisfied, I am not happy. I will have to consult my lawyers again, this is not justice. So many people, all being violent. How did court pick out those for lesser sentence? meri jaddojehad khatam nahii hui. This case is not over for me today, we are right where we started. They brutally killd Ehsan Jafri, Is this the quantum of sentence? They should have all got life imprisonment.
“After so many people died, that’s all the court could decide? just 12 guilty? I will have to fight this.
Activist Teesta Setalvad, who has been working with the riot victims of 2002 for their justice, said, “We welcome the verdict but we are disappointed, on the lesser sentence. We are not for revenge verdict but reformative justice. On compensation, don’t know what the judge said. We will appeal against the lesser sentence for those who haven’t been awarded life imprisonment.”
During the trial, riots victim’s lawyer had argued that the massacre was a pre-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill minority community members of the Gulberg Society.
The verdict comes 14 years after a mob led by Hindutva forces consisting of nearly 20000 armed militants attacked Gulbarg society – a cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings housing mostly Muslims – killing 69 people on 28 February 2002.
Zakiya Jafri, now 77, has been fighting to get her deceased husband the justice despite her failing health. She has asked for the death penalty for the killers of her husband.
Zakiya has always alleged that Narendra Modi, who was the chief minister in 2002, was complicit in the anti-Muslim carnage that killed more than 2000 people unofficially and little over 1000, according to official figure.