Security high ahead of Godhra train carnage verdict

February 22nd, 2011 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, Feb 22 (IANS) Stringent security was in place Tuesday, with a special fast track court here set to deliver its verdict on the fire in a train in Godhra town in which 59 people were burnt to death, triggering the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat.The verdict will be delivered in the confines of the Sabarmati Central Jail here. The court will be presided over by additional sessions judge P.R. Patel.

This court will be the first one to pronounce judgment, among the nine trying the 2002 Gujarat riots cases, in which the Supreme Court had ordered a probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT). The court had reserved its judgment in September last year.

A total of 104 people have undergone trial in the case. Out of them, 86 are lodged inside the Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad. Thirteen accused are out on bail and five others are juvenile accused.

Satish Verma, joint police commissioner Ahmedabad, said elaborate arrangements to maintain peace and law and order are in place.

Apart from city police personnel, 20 companies of State Reserve Police (SRP) Force are deployed. Five additional companies of SRP or Border Wing, one company of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and homeguards are also deployed in the city.

Senior police officials from outside the city and 500 police personnel from headquarters have also been roped in. One company of SRP has been deployed at Sabarmati Jail.

P.C. Thakur, inspector general of prisons, said tight security arrangements have been made in the jail premises to avoid any untoward incident.

Panchmahal district collector Milind Torawane has issued a notification imposing restrictions on the media to broadcast riot related footage.

The notification has also banned public rallies and functions, the gathering of more than four people at one place and carrying of weapons till Feb 23.

According to the chargesheet filed in the case, 59 people were killed in the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express when an unidentified mob of around 900 to 1,000 people attacked it near Godhra railway station Feb 27, 2002.

Most of the people killed in the attack were ‘kar sevaks’, or volunteers who were returning from Ayodhya.

The incident, which was labelled as a conspiracy, triggered state-wide communal violence, in which over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

Initially, all the accused were facing charges under the stringent Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).

However, POTA charges were revoked by the Gujarat High Court in the Godhra case following the recommendations of the Central POTA Review Committee. The Supreme Court also rejected a petition challenging the constitutional validity of POTA (repeal) Act, 2004.

Similarly, many issues related to the case, where the questions of law have been raised by either prosecution or defence, are pending either in the Supreme Court or the High Court.

Now, the accused face criminal charges under the Indian Penal Code and other laws like Indian Railways Act.

The special trial court concluded the trial inside the Sabarmati Central Prison as the state government imposed statutory limitation on the mobility of the accused under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The trial in the case had begun with the court framing charges against the accused in June 2009. During the trial, the court had examined 254 prosecution witnesses.

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