A special court in Ahmedabad will pronounce the quantum of sentence for the 24 convicts in the Gulbarg Society massacre case on Thursday. Special court judge PB Desai had on June 2 convicted 11 accused for murder while another 13 were found guilty of lesser crimes such as attacking and burning shops and houses.
Desai heard the arguments of the prosecution, and advocates representing the victims and the convicts on Monday. He postponed the date of pronouncement of the sentence to June 9.
Public prosecutor RC Kodekar sought life imprisonment, if not death sentence, for the convicts, Indo-Asian News Service reported. Arguing for the victims, SM Vora pleaded the court to give exemplary punishment to all the convicts. He argued that the Gulbarg Society riot was a mass murder committed in cold blood and a rarest of rare case.
However, convict's lawyer Abhay Bhardwaj argued that the incident could not be termed as a cold-blooded murder because the convicts attacked the housing society in retaliation to the firing by Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was hiding several Muslims inside his house during the 2002 Gujarat riots. At least 15 people sustained injuries in the firing, he said.
Bhardwaj reportedly requested the court to consider the various sections of the Indian Penal Code under which the accused were convicted on Thursday, to decide the quantum of punishment.
The Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad was attacked on Feb. 28, 2002, allegedly by a mob of Hindus. The attack was part of the riots that broke out after a coach of Sabarmati Express train was set on fire near Godhra station on Feb. 27, leading to death of at least 58 people.
A total of 69 people were killed in the Gulbarg Society massacre. While at least 39 people, including Jafri, were burnt alive, another 30 were presumed dead.
The hearing into the case started in 2009 and was taken over by Desai in November 2014. He completed the trials in September 2015 and found 66 people guilty of the crime. Four of them died during the trial. Of the remaining accused, 36 were acquitted by the special court on June 2.