Gujarat welcomes verdict in Godhra train carnage

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government on Wednesday welcomed the court verdict in the 2002 Godhra train burning incident for which 11 people were given capital punishment and 20 life imprisonment.

"We respect and welcome the court`s verdict in the Godhra case," government spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said.

He declined to comment anything further, saying he has not read the full judgement.

On February 22, Special Judge P R Patel, upholding the conspiracy theory, had convicted 31 accused. However, the court had acquitted 63 others, including key accused Maulana Hussain Umarji, for lack of evidence. The quantum of punishment was pronounced today.

The judgement and subsequent sentencing evoked a mixed reaction among other quarters.

VHP said the verdict has disappointed the victims of the Godhra train carnage who were expecting death rap for all accused.

VHP`s Gujarat secretary Kaushik Mehta said they have asked the government to appeal against the acquittal of 63 accused and seek death penalty for 20 convicts who have been given life sentence.

Father Cedric Prakash, director of NGO Prashant who has been working for the post-Godhra riot victims, said the court judgement was "outrageous and shocking".

"The judgement spoke about a criminal conspiracy.

However, there is practically no evidence to substantiate this theory," Prakash said in a statement.

"Besides, the so-called `key conspirator` was among the 63 acquitted, and this adds to the hollowness of the `conspiracy`. The verdict and sentences are undeniably a travesty of justice," Prakash said.