Gujarat massacre case: Lifers for 18

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 12, 2012 09:12 hrs

A special court in Gujarat on Thursday sentenced 18 of the 23 convicted in the 2002 Ode village massacre case to life imprisonment and delivered a seven year term for the other five.

The court on Monday had convicted 23 of the 47 people accused in the case related to the 2002 communal riots in the state, acquitting 23 people while one accused died during trial.

The verdict came over a decade after a mob killed 23 Muslims, including three children, in the Ode village of Gujarat´s Anand district.

The massacre had sparked when an agitated mob of about 2,000 gathered near Pirawali Bhagol in the Ode town on March 1, 2002 and set a house on fire in which a small group of Muslims had taken shelter, burning 23 people, mostly women and children, to death.

The case had been probed by the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT), after the victims and their kins expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation carried out by Gujarat police.

The Ode massacre was one among the nine post-Godhra riot cases that was investigated by the SIT appointed by the Supreme Court.

Following the investigations, Special judge S Y Trivedi charged 47 persons with murder, conspiracy, rioting, unlawful assembly, attempt to murder and destruction of evidence of which 23 people were acquitted for want of evidence.

The infamous Gujarat riots of 2002 left hundreds of Muslims dead, injured and tortured and came as a blot in the BJP rule in the state.

The riots followed an incident of train burning in Godhra in which Hindus returning from Ayodhya were killed by a Muslim mob.

Around 1,000 supporters of prime accused Maulvi Umarjihad attacked the coach at the Godhra station and torched it killing 59 people and injuring many.

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