New Delhi, November 9 The judgment of a special court in Gujarat which on November 9 convicted 31 of the 73 accused in the 2002 Sardarpura post-Godhra riot case has been hailed throughout the country. In Ahmedabad eminent social activist Teesta Setalvad said the verdict has restored the faith of people in the judicial system while the All India Milli Council General Secretary Dr Manzoor Alam here termed it reaffirmation of the victim survivors and the faith in the lower judiciary under the watch of the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, former Director General of Gujarat (DGP) Police, R B Sreekumar, also lauded the verdict and said that it would send out a positive message.
Setalvad said: "In one sense it is a huge victory for the victims, survivors and us, 31 people have been convicted under section 302 and 149 which is murder and mob frenzy which generally mean at least a conviction for life; 31 have been given the benefit of doubt and 11 have been acquitted."
"In that sense being the largest number convictions it is a welcome victory. The courage of the victim survivors and the faith in the lower judiciary under the watch of the Supreme Court has been reaffirmed," she added. Setalvad further informed about the follow up appeal she is about to file in the court.
"Having said that there were certain aspects of investigation regarding wider conspiracy and build up of arms coming into Mehsana and Sabarkatha, prior to the Godhra incident brought out on the one hand by the Tehelka magazine sting operation and secondly by the state intelligence reports which were made public by the affidavits of former Director General of Police (DGP) Mr. R.B Sreekumar," said Setalvad.
"These aspects the SIT (Special Investigation Team) somehow failed to investigate and therefore could not be put before the court. Witnesses did testify about some political incitement, these are issues that we will take up possibly in appeal," she added.
Sreekumar said: "This is a great success, a great leap forward, a great achievement for the NGOs and people like Teesta Setalvad who had relentlessly, consistently pursued it. Please note that no secular party had also taken up these cases. Secondly please note that for the first time the so called good people, so called respectable people who had never committed any crime but committed communal crime that it because of the impact of the communal indoctrination."
Dr Manzoor Alam said this was the first post-Godhra riot case in Gujarat out of nine cases probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) on which the verdict has been pronounced.
"This is a historic verdict. It’s true that never before in the history of the trial of communal riot cases in the country, so many people have been sentenced. It didn’t happen either in Bhagalpur or in Best Bakery case," said the AIMC leader.
According to the ANI, a special designated court in Gujarat earlier in the day awarded life imprisonment for all 31 accused in the 2002 Sardarpura massacre case of post Godhra riots. The 31 convicted have been charged with murder, attempt to murder, rioting and other Sections of IPC, while charges of criminal conspiracy against them were dropped by the court. 33 persons were burnt alive in this massacre during 2002 communal violence that broke out after the Godhra train carnage.