Godhra train burning case convicts file appeals in Guj HC

Ahmedabad: The 31 accused, convicted by the trial court in the 2002 Godhra train burning case, have filed appeals before the Gujarat High Court.

On March 1 this year, a special trial court here convicted 31 persons and acquitted 63 others in connection with the burning of S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express near Godhra railway station in 2002, wherein 59 people, mostly karsevaks, died. The incident had triggered widespread communal riots in the state.

The appeals were filed last week by the accused, including Haji Bilal, Mohammad Kurkur, Binyamin Behra, Hasan Charkha, Yusuf Zarda, Mehbub Ahmed alias Latiko and five others who were awarded the death sentence, and others who were awarded life sentences.

Hearing on these appeals was likely to be taken up after the summer vacation of the High Court, said special public prosecutor J M Panchal.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is the probe agency for Godhra case, has yet to challenge the acquittal of 63 persons by the special court.

SIT has already filed applications for confirmation of the death sentence for the 11 accused before the High court, which is mandatory as per the law.

Trial Judge P R Patel, while delivering the verdict, had termed the incident as the "rarest of the rare" and said that any liberal attitude or sympathetic view would be counter-productive in the long run and would be against the societal interest.