Demand for death penalty for Gulberg riot convicts
The prosecution in 2002 Gulberg housing society massacre case on Monday sought death penalty or life imprisonment till death for all the 24 convicts, calling the attack ‘barbaric and inhuman’ even as a special court deferred further hearing on sentencing to June 9.
Pleading for maximum punishment, the prosecution said capital punishment could be considered by the court or the convicts be sent to jail and ordered to remain there till their last breath. As arguments over the quantum of sentence that lasted for over two-and-a-half hours remained inconclusive, the special SIT court judge P B Desai adjourned further hearing in the case to Thursday.
The court had on Friday convicted 24 and acquitted 36 others, while dropping conspiracy charges in the killings of 69 persons including former Congress MP Eshan Jafri in Gulberg housing society on February 29, 2002 in post-Godhra riots when Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister. The massacre shook the nation when a mob of 400 people set about attacking the housing society in the heart of Ahmedabad and killed the residents.
It was one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT. Out of the total 66 accused, six died during the trial. Of the 24 convicted, 11 have been charged with murder, while 13 others including VHP leader Atul Vaidya have been convicted for lesser offences. A lawyer for the victim’s S M Vora also sought maximum punishment for the accused and argued that sentencing for each offence should not run concurrently so that they spend their entire life in jail.