Gujarat Riots Case – 31 Received Life Sentence – Win for NGOs Victims
Ten years of efforts of NGOs led by Padam Shri Teesta Setalvad, grand daughter of India first and longest serving Attorney General of India (1950-1963) and first Chairman of Law Commission shri Motilal Chimanlal Setalvad have finally prevailed over Modi Raj in this conviction of 31 murderers.
Other than the 2007 Padma Shri, Teesta Setalvad received the following awards:
· 2004 M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award from the Vigil India Movement.
· Parliamentarians for Global Action 'Defender of Democracy' award, jointly with Helen Clark, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
· the Nani A Palkhivala Award 2006.
· The Nuernberg Human Rights Award 2003.
· PUCL Journalism for human Rights Award 1993.
· Chameli Devi Jain Award for outstanding Woman journalist 1993.
· Maharana Mewar Foundation's Hakim Khan Sur Award (jointly with Javed Anand) in 1999.
· Human Rights Award OF the Dalit liberation Education Trust in 2000.
· Pax Christi internationally Peace Award (jointly with Australian artist Eddi Kneebone).
· Rajiv Gandhi Award (jointly with Harsh Mander) for highlighting and helping the victims of violence in February - July 2002 in Gujarat, India.
More set of awards are on her way.
Sardarpura massacre: Gujarat court awards life sentence to 31
Agencies Posted online: Wed Nov 09 2011,
Ahmedabad : A special court in Gujarat today sentenced all 31 convicted to life imprisonment in the 2002 Sardarpura post-Godhra riot case in which 33 people of a minority community were burnt alive.
Earlier, the court convicted 31 of the 73 accused in the case and acquitted 42.
Out of the acquitted, 11 were freed due to lack of evidence, while 31 were given the benefit of doubt, who have been asked to submit a solvency bond of Rs 25,000 each. The court has also directed them not to leave the country without its permission.
This is the first post-Godhra riot case, probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), on which the verdict has been pronounced.
The 31 convicted have been charged with murder, attempt to murder, rioting and other sections of IPC, while charges of criminal conspiracy against them were dropped by the court.
After the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 people, mainly karsevaks, were burnt to death on February 27 2002, riots had taken place across the state, in which Sardarpura town in Vijapur taluka also fell prey to violence.
A strong mob had surrounded a lane called 'Sheikh vaas' on the intervening night of February 28 and March 1, 2002, where minority population of the village used to live.
Fearing the worst, people of the minority community took shelter in a house owned by one Ibrahim Sheikh. However, the mob torched the house after pouring petrol, in which, 33 people, including 22 women, were charred to death.
In all, 76 accused were arrested in the Sardarpur case by the police, out of which, two died during pendency of trial, while one was a juvenile, against whom, trial was on in a juvenile court.
The court had framed charges against 73 accused in June 2009 and initiated trial in the case.
The prosecution alleged that the attack on minority community was pre-planned and the conspiracy was hatched by some local leader, following the Godhra train burning incident.
It had further submitted that weapons were distributed by the accused in the run-up to the incident, who, however claimed that they were being falsely implicated and the violence was perpetrated by people, who had come from outside.
Advocate Y B Sheikh, representing the riot victims, said that over 80 witnesses, who were also victims of the violence, had named the accused while giving statement to the police and and also correctly identified accused in court during trial.
While the trial was on, 112 witnesses were examined, out of the 157 named in the charge sheet. These include 20 doctors, 17 inquest witnesses, 40 riot victims, 20 police and 15 others.