Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has decided a set of appeals challenging convictions and acquittals in the case of the burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra in 2002, which triggered massive communal riots across the state of Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people were killed.
- 59 people died after train was set on fire in 2002 at Godhra station
- High Court today refused to change verdict on 63 acquittals
- Of 31 convicted, 11 see their sentence reduced to life in prison
A total of 94 people, all Muslims, had stood trial on charges of murder and conspiracy. In 2011, a court acquitted 63 of them. The High Court today has refused to change that verdict. Those acquitted include Maulvi Umarji, accused of being the mastermind behind the fire.
31 people were convicted of murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. The death sentence for 11 of them has today been changed to life imprisonment. The others remain sentenced to life in jail.
In February 2002, 59 people, most of them 'kar sevaks', Hindu devotees returning from Ayodhya, died after a coach of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire at the Godhra station, around 130 km from Ahmedabad.
The Muslims who were tried have always denied setting the train ablaze on February 27, 2002.
The train was returning with passengers from the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya that had been demolished by lakhs of right-wing workers and volunteers in 1992. The special court, in 2011, in Gujarat ruled that the accused had conspired to torch the train.