11 get the noose for Godhra train burning, 21 sentenced to life (Lead)

March 1st, 2011 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, March 1 (IANS) A special court here Tuesday sent to the gallows 11 people and gave life imprisonment to 20 others for the February 2002 burning of a train coach in Gujarat’s Godhra town that killed 59 people and triggered a communal frenzy, which claimed an estimated 1,000 lives in the state.The sentence was pronounced by special judge P.R. Patel in the court within the high-security Sabarmati prison here.

The 31 people were convicted Feb 22 and held guilty of conspiring and setting on fire S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express near the Godhra railway station Feb 27, 2002. The train, carrying many radical Hindu activists, was on its way back from Uttar Pradesh’s temple town Ayodhya.

The court had acquitted 63 others, including alleged mastermind Maulvi Saeed Umarji.

While the prosecution sought death for the 31 convicted, arguing that it was the “rarest of rare case”, the defence appealed that the convicts be spared the noose and sentenced to life in prison

Lawyer I.M. Munshi told reporters that the defence has asked for leniency, saying the incident was a reaction to the “misbehaviour” of ‘kar sevaks’ (Hindu volunteers) in the train and could not be termed a “rarest of rare” case.

The lawyers also argued the convicts should not be sent to the gallows considering their past, their family circumstances and the fact that they had spent nine years in jail during the trial.

The 31 men were held guilty of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity, robbery and arson.

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