June 02, 2016

India: Court Verdict in 2002 Gulbarg massacre of Gujarat coming today

The Times of India, Jun 2, 2016

Verdict in 2002 Gulbarg massacre today

Ahmedabad: An Ahmedabad court will pronounce the judgment in the 2002 Gulbarg society communal massacre case amid tight security on Thursday. Former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among 69 people slaughtered in the massacre.

Ahmedabad was put on high alert ahead of the verdict, which special judge P B Desai would deliver after a trial that has lasted seven years.

Jafri's 75-year-old widow Zakia said she was hopeful of getting justice. "I have been fighting for justice all alone and I want to see the guilty get the strictest of punishment," she told TOI from Surat.

"Politicians and police officers who allowed the massacre to happen are moving about freely while I have been painfully waiting 14 years for justice."

The Supreme Court had lifted a stay on the verdict in the case last year. The case was the eighth of nine cases an SC-appointed special investigation team had probed.

Among the 66 accused, five died during the trial, which has been conducted under four judges. As many as 338 witnesses were examined in the case, the only one in which then CM Narendra Modi was questioned as Zakia had levelled charges of a larger conspiracy.

A mob of over 20,000 people had attacked the Gulbarg society in Chamanpura area a day after 59 people were charred to death near Godhra on February 27, 2002. Thirty-nine bodies were found while 31 people including Jafri and 14-year-old Parsi boy Azhar Mody went missing. Seven years later, 30 of the missing were declared dead. The one left, Muzaffar Shaikh, was found alive in 2008. He was being brought up by a Hindu family and had been renamed Vivek.