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The train fire triggered communal riots across Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people were killed. Photo: HT
The train fire triggered communal riots across Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people were killed. Photo: HT

Court sentences two to life in Godhra train burning case

A special court in Ahmedabad on Monday awarded life imprisonment to two men convicted in the 2002 Godhra train burning carnage in which 59 people were killed

Ahmedabad: A special court in Ahmedabad on Monday awarded life imprisonment to two men convicted in the 2002 Godhra train burning carnage in which 59 people were killed.

Special judge H.C. Vora awarded life sentences to Farooq Bhana and Imran Sheru after the prosecution established their role as conspirators in setting fire to the Sabarmati Express on 27 February 2002. The court acquitted three of the accused, including Hussain Suleman Mohan, Kasam Bhamedai and Faruk Dhantiya.

The five were caught in 2015-2016 and were tried at a special court at Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad.

Eight of those accused in the case are still absconding.

As many as 59 “kar sevaks" who were returning in the Sabarmati Express from the disputed religious site in Ayodhya, were charred to death when a mob torched the train near Godhra railway station.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the communal riots that engulfed Gujarat following the incident.

Local police investigated the carnage before the Supreme Court transferred the probe in 2008 to a special investigation team (SIT) that prosecuted 94 people.

The fire was a conspiracy and the coach was set ablaze by a mob, the Nanavati Commission, appointed by the Gujarat government to probe the train burning, concluded in its report.

The trial at the special SIT court began in June 2009 with the framing of charges against 94 accused, of whom 63 were acquitted. The court had also ruled that a criminal conspiracy had led to the incident.

The court had on 1 March 2011 convicted 31 people of murder and conspiracy. It later awarded death sentence to 11 of them and life imprisonment to the others.

However, Gujarat high court, in October 2017, commuted the death sentence of 11 to life imprisonment.

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