Fourteen years after 69 persons, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed in Gulberg Society during the 2002 riots in Ahmedabad, a special court on June 2 has acquitted 36 accused and convicted 24. Of the convicted, 11 have been charged for murder. The court will pronounce the quantum of punishment on June 6.
Among those acquitted include BJP corporator from Asarva in Ahmedabad Bipin Patel and the then police inspector K.G. Erda. The former cop, who was accused of dereliction of duty, has retired now.
Gulberg Society case is one of the key cases that were looked into by the Supreme Court appointed by the Special Investigation Team.
The court has not charged any of the accused for conspiracy. More than 300 witnesses were examined by the investigators.
More than 1,000 people, mostly of the minority community, had lost their lives in the violence that broke out after 59 persons, mostly kar sevaks, returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive in S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express train at the Godhra Railway Station.
Zakia Jafri, widow of Jafri, reacted to the judgment saying that her battle will continue. Her son Tanvir, however, appeared satisfied with the verdict and said that they would decide the future course of action after talking to the lawyers.
Teesta Setalvad, whose organisation Citizens of Justice and Peace had helped the victims fight the case, said the victims had fought bravely all these years.
The court premise was turned into a fortress with police bandobast. While supporters and family members of the accused had gathered at the court, family members of the victims were conspicuous by their absence.
The judge first announced the set of names who were acquitted. Before reading out the names, he said the following persons are being acquitted. Then he read out the name and number of those acquitted. The joy of those acquitted was visible on their faces.
The Gulberg Society in the eastern part of the city continues to remain deserted.