Godhra riots
Godhra riotsReuters

Eleven persons were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Gujarat High Court on Thursday for the murder of a father-daughter duo from a minority community during the 2002 post-Godhra riots at Meda Adraj village in Mehsana district.

The division bench of Justices Anant Dave and B N Karia set aside the trial court order that had acquitted the accused. A fast-track court in Mehsana on June 14, 2005, had acquitted all the 27 accused of killing Kalu Miyan Saiyed and his daughter Hasina Bibi. The Gujarat government and the victims' family had challenged the trial court's verdict.

The bench today awarded the accused "life imprisonment with remission", which allows the state government to release those convicted after they have completed 14 years of their prison sentence. Those convicted were prosecuted under sections 302 (murder), 148 and 149 (unlawful assembly) and 436 (mischief by fire) of the Indian Penal Code.

The eleven convicted persons: Mukesh Amritlal Patel, Narendra Chimanlal Patel, Dinesh Jaswantbhai Patel, Kirit Somabhai Patel, Kirit Chandubhai Patel, Girish Ambalal Patel, Girish Chunnilal Patel, Mukesh Mahendrabhai Patel, Nilesh Naranbhai Patel, Janak Rameshbhai Patel and Mukesh Somabhai Patel have also been charged with a fine of Rs. 10,000 each and been granted 10 weeks to surrender.

Today's sentencing follows from last month, when the High Court had held 11 out of the 27 accused guilty for murdering two persons at Meda Adraj on March 3, 2002, in the aftermath of train burning incident at Godhra in which 58 persons were killed.

The prosecution, which also relied on the testimonies of six eye-witnesses, claimed that a mob of around 200 people surrounded the victims who had taken shelter in the house of Joitaram Prajapati and burnt them alive.