Gujarat Riots
Hajira Sheikh, a riot survivor, sits with her grandson at her residence in the rebuilt Naroda Patiya, a neighbourhood of more than 3000 families in Ahmedabad, Gujarat March 6, 2009.Reuters

A special court on Monday convicted 23 of the 47 accused in the Ode massacre case in which 23 people were burnt alive by a mob during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The apex court directed the Special Investigating Team (SIT) to carry out the probe as allegations of a biased inquiry against the perpetrators surfaced. So far the SIT has probed 10 cases related to Gujarat riots, in which three have received a judgement.

The SIT chargesheeted about 47 accused in the Ode massacre in which one died during the course of the trial, while the other two continue to evade the law.

On March 1, 2002, the Ode village in Anand district was attacked by a group of coldblooded miscreants, who set ablaze a house which had about 23 people residing in it.

The subsequent communal clashes and massacre in Gujarat, in 2002, occurred after 58 pilgrims in the S6 compartment of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra railway station, returning from Ayodhya, were burnt to death. This was touted as a pre-conceived conspiracy and led to stirring up of violence between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat.

After the news of the Godhra train carnage broke out, thousands of people were killed and several places of worship and public properties were damaged by unruly mobs. The nature of this violence still remains politically controversial.

The SIT in its reports on Ode carnage had recommended the judiciary to consider the nature of this case in the rarest of the rare category, which would attract capital punishment or life imprisonment to the accused.