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Gulbarg Society verdict (Analysed from various sources, Relevant for GS Mains Paper II)

The special Special Investigation Team trial court awarded life imprisonment to 11 persons found guilty of murder, one has received a 10-year jail term and 12 others have been sentenced to seven years in prison in the case of the brutal killing of 69 people including a former lawmaker Ehsan Jafri and arson during the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Twenty-four persons were convicted and 36 acquitted in the case. 

Background
The Gulbarg Society massacre took place on 28 February 2002, during the 2002 Gujarat riots, when a Hindu mob attacked the Gulbarg Society, a Muslim neighbourhood in Chamanpura, Ahmedabad. Most of the houses were burnt, and at least 35 victims, including a former Congress Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jafri, were burnt alive, while 31 others went missing after the incident, later presumed dead, bringing the total deaths to 69.

The Supreme Court of India had stayed the trial in major Gujarat cases on petitions filed by the National Human Rights Commission and the Citizens for Justice and Peace, who sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and transfer of the cases outside Gujarat. The SC bench directed the Gujarat government to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by R. K. Raghavan, a former head of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case.

It reopened nine crucial riot cases. Seven years after the incident, in February 2009, Erda, the Deputy Superintendent of Police with the Gujarat Police at the time was arrested on charges of dereliction of duty and for tampering with evidence, as some survivors alleged that he not only allowed the killings to happen but also helped rioters to burn the dead bodies.

SIT submitted its entire report including case papers, witnesses’ testimonies and other details in March 2012. On the basis of SIT report, SC has given the verdict.



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