Five Get Life Term for Godhra Killing
Five persons owing allegiance to the BJP and the VHP were sentenced for life by the Godhra Fast Track Court on October 26 in a murder case related to the 2002 communal carnage in Gujarat. The five had been named in a police complaint for leading a mob on March 1, 2002 to the Referral Hospital in Halol and burning one, Samir Ayub Delolia. Ayub’s friend witnessed the murder from a distance and lodged the complaint the same evening. The judgement termed the murder ‘a pre-planned and consciously carried out act’ and held each accused individually liable for the crime. In all, 35 witnesses were examined who supported the prosecution. The Superintendent of Police for Panchamahals district, Raju Bhargav was also examined in the case. The court found the plea of the accused councilor Rathod, who claimed he was not present during the crime, unacceptable. Rathod had produced a doctor’s certificate in support. But on cross-examination of the doctor, it was not found convincing by the court and he was convicted. Those who were convicted by the Fast Track Court Judge R. D. Thaker are Pramodsinh Rathre, Vikramsinh Jadeja, Arunsinh Chauhan. Bhavesh Patel and Gopal Patel. In another case pertaining to rioting, 23 persons, some of them village level leaders affiliated to the BJP and VHP, were convicted for 10 years imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs. 17,500 by a Godhra Fast Track court on October 11. The court judge F. U. Malek, observed that the accused have been handed down strict punishment as the victims had no connection with the Godhra train carnage and were made to suffer for no fault of theirs. Public Prosecutor, Piyush Gandhi said that the prosecution examined 24 witnesses, most of whom stuck to their statements made before the police, leading to the convictions. The convicted persons belong to villages in Kalol region. The complaint was lodged by Ahmad Haji Mohammed Hathida on March 21 from a camp organized for the riot victims in Godhra. The complaint said that rioters looted or burnt properties worth Rs. 10.63 lakh. The accused were nabbed and subsequently bailed and the case was committed to the sessions court in August 2004. Following the October 11, sentence, the accused were jailed.