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.
Death sentences given by trial court in 2011 changed to life sentence, 20 others remain sentenced to life in jail.
On February 27, 2002, a date that would change the history of Gujarat forever, coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express went up in flames, killing all 59 occupants, a lot of them "kar sevaks" returning from Ayodhya.
While delivering its order, the Gujarat HC upheld the trial court judgment sentencing 20 people to life in prison.
The Gujarat High Court on Monday, while refusing to change the verdict on 63 acquitted, also ordered the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of the kar sevaks who were killed in Godhra train burning incident. This was challenged in the Gujarat High Court, which heard the petition and kept its sentence reserved for last two-and-a-half years.
On March 1, 2011, the special SIT court had convicted 31 people under IPC sections related to murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.
According to police investigation, Aman Guest house owner Abdul Razak Kurkur had procured 60 litre patrol from a fuel pump on February 26. The special court in its verdict concludes that it is rarest of rare case convicts 31 accused and acquits 63 others including main accused Maulana Umarji.
On February 27, the train, which was about four hours late, made a stop at Godhra. Following the carnage, Gujarat government had appointed the Nanavati Commission to launch a probe into Godhra train burning incident.