The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday overturned a trial court’s judgement and convicted seven persons for murder in the 2002 post-Godhra riots case in Ahmedabad. The court will announce the quantum of their sentence on July 25. Earlier, there were total 10 accused in the Viramgam town riot case, out of which the trial court had in 2011 convicted two for murder, four for lesser offences while four others were acquitted.
The High Court upheld the trial court order convicting two on charges of murder and acquitted another accused Devabhai Samatbhai Bharwad. A division bench of Justice Harsh Devani and Justice Biren Vaishnav, in a judgement, convicted a total of nine persons for murder and acquitted one in the riot case where three people were killed in Viramgam.
The case is related to the killing of three members of the minority community in Viramgam town on February 28, 2002, when a mob turned violent following the Godhra train bloodshed.
The seven convicts are Satabhai alias Haider Gela Bharwad, Naranbhai Samantbhai Bharwad, Udaji Ranchhodbhai Thakor, Valabhai Gelabhai Bharwad, Viththal alias Kuchiyo Moti Bharwad, Mulabhai Gelabhai Bharwad and Merabhai Gelabhai Bharwad.
Notices have been issued to them to be present before the court on July 25, when the quantum of sentence is decided. The two others whose term was confirmed by the High Court are Bhopa Bharwad and Bachu Thakor. With this, nine of the 10 accused stand convicted.
On February 28, 2002, a mob of nearly 40 people, armed with sharp weapons, attacked Muslim residents near Valana railway crossing. One of the witnesses had learnt of a fire at his farm near Valana village and had rushed, along with others, to douse the flames when they saw some people trying to demolish a dargah. As they tried to prevent it, the mob turned on them. Two people were killed on the spot, and another succumbed to injuries at VS Hospital in Ahmedabad.