The Gujarat High Court on Monday (Oct 9) reduced the death sentence given to 11 convicts to life imprisonment in the 2002 Godhra train burning case.
Here is everything that you need to know about the 2002 Godhra train burning case:
1. On Feb 27, 2002, the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express, headed for Ahmedabad, were set ablaze at Godhra station in Gujarat.
2. At least 59 people, including 27 women and 10 children, were killed in the incident. Around 48 others were injured.
3. Most of the victims were Hindu pilgrims who were going home from Ayodhya after attending a religious ceremony – Purnahuti Maha Yagna – at the site of the disputed Babri Masjid at the behest of the Vishva Hindu Parishad. The
4. The train, running four hours late, stopped as per schedule at Godhra station around 7:43 am.
5. However, as the train was leaving the platform, the emergency brake was pulled by unknown miscreant making the Sabarmati Express halt at the signal point. A mob of around 2000 people attacked the train and started stone pelting. The train, with passengers trapped inside, was set on fire.
6. At least 51 people were arrested by the police on charges of arson, rioting and looting by Feb 28, 2002.
7. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) also filed its chargesheet before first class railway magistrate P. K. Joshi
8. The Gujarat government, headed by the then prime minister Narendra Modi, set up the Nanavati-Shah commission on Mar 6, 2002 to investigate the incident and submit a report.
9. In Sept 2008, the commission submitted its report supporting arson and conspiracy.
10. The court examined around 253 witnesses. Over 1500 documentary evidences were presented during the trial.
11. On July 24, 2015, the main accused in the Godhra train burning case, Hussain Suleman Mohammad, was arrested from Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh.
12. On May 18, 2016, the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested the missing `conspirator’, Farooq Bhana, from Mumbai.
13. In Feb 2011, the trial court convicted 31 accused and acquitted 63 others. The 31 Muslims were convicted for murder and conspiracy under provisions of Sections 302 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code respectively and under Sections 149, 307, 323, 324, 325, 326, 332, 395, 397, and 436 of the Code and some sections of the Railway Act and Police Act.
14. Twenty accused were given life imprisonment while 11 were ordered death penalty.
15. Maulvi Saeed Umarji, who the SIT believed to be the prime conspirator, was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
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16. On Oct 9, 2017, the Gujarat High Court changed the death penalty to 11 accused to life imprisonment.