24 of 66 people who stood trial in the Gulbarg society Gujarat riots case have been convicted for murder by an Ahmedabad court. Bipin Patel, a four-time BJP corporator and the key accused, has been acquitted.
The verdict comes 14 years after a mob of nearly 20000 people attacked Gulbarg society - killing 69 people, including former Congress lawmaker Ehsan Jafri. The society is a cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings housing mostly Muslims
The mob attacked the housing complex on February 28, a day after coaches of the Sabarmati Express train were burnt at Godhra station leaving 59 people dead. The rioters had breached the boundary wall of the housing complex and set houses afire. Ehsan Jafri was dragged out, hacked and burnt to death along with 68 others.
The SIT has said in court that 39 charred bodies were found and are proof that the victims were burnt alive. It has also said that petrol cans, lathis and swords found at the site indicate that there was a large-scale massacre.
His frantic phone calls to police officers and senior politicians for help allegedly went unanswered. Jafri's wife, Zakiya Jafri, now 77, has pursued justice through the years despite failing health and has said she wants the death sentence for the killers of her husband.
Rupa Mody, the mother of 14-year-old Azhar, a Parsi boy who died in the massacre, too has demanded the most stringent punishment for those who killed her son. Bollywood filmmaker Rahul Dholakia's film Parzania was based on Azhar's story.
Trial in the Gulbarg case began in 2009, seven years after the massacre, and concluded last year in September. The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the case, had directed the special court to give its verdict by May 31.