but gulberg families criticise ‘lenient sentence’
A COURT in India jailed 11 Hindus for life last Friday (17) over the massacre of dozens of Muslims in Gujarat 14 years ago.
The court sentenced 12 others to seven years in jail over the murder of 69 Muslims who were hacked and burnt to death in a residential complex in Ahmedabad,amongthem women and children.
Another was given a10-year
term for rioting and arson.
The massacre at the Gulberg Society housing complex was one of the single worst losses of life in the week-long
violence that left more than 1,000 people dead.
Several Muslim families had taken shelter in the complex when it was stormed by a mob of attackers angered by the deaths of Hindus in a train fire.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, ar- guing that those who had been targeted were all “innocent people”.
“We had pleaded before the court that if you are not convinced about giving the death penalty, at least give life term till the end of life to all the accused,” said public prosecutor RC Kodekar after the sentencing.
“So (the judgement) is not at all satisfactory. It is lenient and inadequate.”
Judge PB Desai had earlier ruled the massacre at the Gulberg Society complex was a spontaneous attack, rejecting claims of a preplanned conspiracy against Muslims.
On Friday (17) he described the religious violence as “one of the darkest days of civil society in Gujarat” and urged the government not to com- mute, shorten or otherwise alter the sentences.
“This was a massacre. So many people came together to do this, so what happened was clearly the result of a conspiracy. The 24 people should have been sentenced to life in prison. We will appeal,” SM Vohra, a lawyer for some of the victims, said.
More than 300 witnesses gave evidence during the years-long trial that began in 2009 but was delayed by legal challenges. Several of the original accused have since died.