Gulberg Society massacre: Quantum of sentence for 24 convicts to be announced today
The Gulberg Society massacre is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat violence probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.
Ahmedabad: A special Special Investigation Team (SIT) court will on Friday pronounce the quantum of sentence for 24 convicts in the Gulberg Society massacre in which 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed.
Notably, the chief convict in the case, Kailash Dhobi, surrendered before the court on June 13.
On Monday, the court of special judge PB Desai here had announced that the quantum of sentence would be declared on Friday, after submissions were made by the prosecution, defence lawyers as well as the lawyer of the victims.
Earlier on June 2, the court had held 11 persons guilty of murder and other offences, while 13 others, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, were charged with lesser offences. It had acquitted 36 others in the case.
Kailash Dhobi, among those convicted of major offences and a prime accused arrested in 2002 who jumped temporary bail in February this year, surrendered before the court on June 13 after the judge concluded the hearing on the quantum of sentence. He was sent to judicial custody in the Sabarmati Prison.
During the argument, public prosecutor representing the Supreme Court-appointed SIT, RC Kodekar asked the court for nothing less than death sentence or jail term till death for all 24 convicts.
A lawyer for the victims, SM Vora, also sought maximum punishment for the accused and argued that sentencing for each offence should not run concurrently so that they spend their entire life in jail.
Lawyer of the accused, Abhay Bhardwaj, has refused the demand of capital punishment or maximum punishment in his arguments, saying that the incident was spontaneous and there were enough provocations for it.
The Gulberg Society massacre, which took place here on February 28, 2002, when Narendra Modi was the Gujarat Chief Minister, shook the nation when a mob of 400 people set about attacking the society in the heart of Ahmedabad and killed the residents including Jafri.
It was one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.
The incident had taken place a day after the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station in which 58 'kar sevaks' returning from Ayodhya were killed.
During the course of the trial, as many as 338 witnesses were cross-examined, with four different judges having presided over the case.
Of the 66 accused named by the SIT in the case, nine are behind bars, while others are out on bail.
(With Agency inputs)