A special trial court in the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre case on Friday awarded life imprisonment to 11 of the 24 convicts, who were pronounced guilty earlier this month. While 12 others were awarded seven years of imprisonment, one convict has been sentenced to ten years.
Expressing disappointment over the verdict, Zakia Jafri, wife of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, said, "I am not satisfied, I am not happy. I will have to consult my lawyers again. This is not justice."
"We welcome the verdict but we are disappointed with the lesser sentence," said activist Teesta Setalvad. "We will appeal against the lesser sentence for those who haven't been awarded life imprisonment," she added.
Earlier, the court had convicted 11 persons for murder and other offences, while 13 others, including VHP leader Atul Vaidya, were charged with lesser offences. It had also acquitted 36 others in the case.
Among those acquitted are BJP corporator from Asarva, Bipin Patel, who was also the corporator in 2002 when the massacre happened. He had won the election for the fourth consecutive term last year.
The court had concluded the arguments on quantum of sentence on Friday last week after taking into consideration submissions made by both the prosecution and defence lawyers as well as the lawyer of the victims.
During the arguments, special public prosecutor and counsel for Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), RC Kodekar, had asked the court for nothing less than death sentence or jail term till death for all 24 convicts. He said all 24 convicts were found guilty of offence under section 149 of the IPC, and therefore required to be treated at par when the sentence is pronounced.
The Gulberg Society was attacked a day after Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express was torched in Godhra on February 27, 2002. A mob attacked residents of the Gulberg Society situated in Chamanpura area of Ahmedabad and burnt down most of the houses. 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed in the incident.