Gulbarg carnage

A special SIT court on Friday awarded life imprisonment to 11 people convicted of murder in the Gulbarg Society massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The court refrained from awarding capital punishment, saying that the crime didn't fall in “rarest of the rare“ category and the accused “deserved a second chance to reform and rehabilitate“ One person convicted of abetment to murder was given a 10-year jail term while 11 others, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, found guilty of lesser offences, were handed down seven-year jail sentences. Another person was given one-year jail term.
A mob killed 69 people, including Congress ex-MP Ehsan Jafri -he was burned alive -in the Muslim-majority housing society in Ahmedabad on February 28.
The court accepted the defence lawyers' theory that Jafri's firing on the mob acted as a catalyst for the large-scale violence. The carnage was one of (the) darkest days of civil society in Gujarat and cannot in any manner be excused or condoned,“ designated judge P B Desai observed while awarding quantum of sentence. On June 2, the court had acquitted 36 out of the 60 accused. The court accepted the defence's theory that Jafri's firing on the mob acted as a catalyst for the large-scale violence. The court cited 20 policemen's testimonies to come to this conclusion. “It (the firing)... infuriated the mob to such an extent that it went out of control. This further resulted in the entire carnage. The limited police force had no means to control or disperse such mob which specifically targeted Jafri's house,“ it said.
The court did not find enough evidence to believe that there was any pre-planned or larger conspiracy . It rather found the evidence “uninspiring and downright ridiculous“.The court criticised witnesses for “selective amnesia“ where they chose not to mention a word about Jafri's firing.
It said the attempt to implicate senior police officers and government officials as conspirators was meaningless and the controversy “is required to be given its due burial“. Handing the 11 convicts life imprisonment, Desai considered their “good conduct“ during the 14 years of trial, and said, “The convicts are not a menace to society .“ However, the court said recommended that the state government may not use its powers to grant remission after completion of 14 years imprisonment.

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