The Gujarat High Court today commuted the death sentence of 11 convicts in the 2002 Godhra train carnage case to life imprisonment. The trial court sentenced 11 persons to death and 20 others to life imprisonment, while acquitting 63 others. The victims or the kins have been ordered to be compensated by up to Rs 10 lakhs.
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, majority "kar sevaks" returning from Ayodhya.
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Later, several appeals were filed in the high court challenging the convictions, while the Gujarat government questioned the acquittal of the 63 people. "In other words, there was a conspiracy to burn coach S/6 of the Sabarmati Express train coming from Ayodhya and to cause harm to the kar sevaks travelling in that coach", said a report submitted by the commission. And as many as 100,000 Muslims and 40,000 Hindus were rendered homeless in the riots.
The convicts were described as a "core committee" that played a crucial role in organizing a mob of almost 1,000 people and more than 100 litres of petrol to set the train on fire. Out of the 31, eleven were awarded death penalty, while 20 were given life term.
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Godhra: Burnt bogies of Sabarmati Express train.
In wake of the tragedy, the Gujarat government appointed the Nanavati Commission to investigate the incident.
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All 59 people were killed in the train burning incident on February 27, 2002. Those acquitted included prime accused Maulana Umarji, the then president of Godhra municipality Mohammad Hussain Kalota, Mohammad Ansari and Nanumiya Chaudhary of Gangapur, Uttar Pradesh.