- Title: Indian court jails 11 for life over Gujarat massacre of Muslim
- Date: 17th June 2016
- Summary: AHMEDABAD, GUJARAT, INDIA (FILE - SEPTEMBER 19, 2015) (REUTERS) PAN SHOT OF THE CHARRED HOUSE OF ZAKIA JAFRI, WHERE HER HUSBAND WAS LYNCHED
- Embargoed: 1st July 2016 10:25
- Keywords: Teesta Setalvad Zakia Jafri Ehsan Jafri Muslims Gujarat riots India Gulbarg society Narendra Modi Hindu
- Location: AHMEDABAD/SURAT, GUJARAT, INDIA
- City: AHMEDABAD/SURAT, GUJARAT, INDIA
- Country: India
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Crime
- Reuters ID: LVA0024MMYBET
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL
An Indian court jailed 11 Hindu attackers for life on Friday (June 17) for murdering dozens of Muslims in one of the most notorious massacres of the 2002 Gujarat riots that shook India at a time Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state's chief minister.
The court sentenced 12 others to seven years in jail over the killing of 69 Muslims, while another was handed a 10-year sentence, prosecutors told local television channels after the sentencing.
"The court acknowledged that the 24 accused had assembled unlawfully and had come with an intention to kill people and they were punished for the same. Eleven persons were awarded life sentence and out of remaining 13, 12 were awarded seven years imprisonment and one person was awarded 10 years imprisonment," said public prosecutor R.C. Kodekar.
A Hindu mob scaled the boundary wall of the Gulbarg housing society in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's largest city, in February 2002 before torching the homes in which Muslim families were trapped. Several victims were children and women who were burned to death.
The massacre was one of a series of riots that flared for two months in western Gujarat, killing more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.
Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress party legislator, Ehsan, died in the blaze, said Friday's sentences were insufficient.
"I will start preparing for a fresh case in the coming days. I will once again go to the court with my lawyers after consulting my son, and seek justice. I will ask the judiciary why it did this?" asked Jafri.
The riots dogged Modi's political career for years after he was accused of not doing enough to stop the violence. Modi, a Hindu, denies any wrongdoing and in 2013 a panel appointed by the Supreme Court said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.
Jafri, who is fighting what may be the last legal battle to pin blame on Modi, says that she saw her husband making repeated desperate calls to police for help.
He was dragged out of his ancestral home by sword-wielding men and within minutes was stripped and killed, according to Jafri.
An Indian court this month convicted 24 Hindus for their role in the massacre at the Gulbarg housing society while acquitting 36. The trial began in 2009.
Activist Teesta Setalvad, who has been helping the families of those killed in Gulbarg Society massacre, too expressed disappointment at the verdict.
"We are very disappointed in the lesser sentence. We had argued for exemplary life imprisonment for all the 24 accused. We had made a strong case that where sections like 436 and 149 are applied and they are part of a willfully armed mob that was on the attack from 9 am (0330GMT) right up to 5 pm (1130GMT), there is no reason for such leniency in sentence," said Setalvad.
Meanwhile, relatives of the accused broke down outside the court and said they had been framed.
"A person has been in prison for the last 14 years... what else should I say? I am sick of making rounds of courts. My husband was not even present at the spot and still he was named as an accused," said wife of an accused.
The attack came a day after 60 Hindu pilgrims died in a train blaze, triggering the rioting.
However according to estimates by human rights groups, more than 2,500 people were killed, most of them Muslims.
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