Ahmedabad: Ruling out any conspiracy angle in the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre, a special court on Friday said that firing by former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, in which one person was killed, acted as a catalyst and infuriated the mob that led it to the "killing frenzy", but asserted that the firing cannot condone the acts of the mob.
"It was the private firing by Shri Ehsan Jafri that acted as a catalyst and which infuriated the mob to such an extent that it went out of control, the limited police force available there had no means to control or disperse such mob, which had gathered in large numbers post the incident of private firing," special SIT court judge P B Desai said in his order while sentencing 11 of the attackers to life in jail and 13 others to lesser terms.
As many as eight rounds were fired from Jafri’s gun, killing one and injuring 15, the order said.
"Shri Ehsan Jafri had perpetrated acts of firing from his weapon from different locations within Gulberg Society upon the mob, causing injuries and death of one person, which in my opinion was the catalyst, which provoked the mob to such proportions that it went out of control and thus resulted into the killing frenzy, where a large number of innocent persons lost their lives," the court said.
Rejecting the conspiracy angle to the incident, the court said it was "unnatural" that while no grave untoward incident took place between 9.30 am and 1.30 pm (on February 28, 2002), things turned "ugly" all of a sudden after 1.30 pm "as if some tap was turned on, which resulted in a flood of water and the carnage was perpetrated."
The court, however, added that this fact cannot "in any manner excuse or condone the acts of the mob, which perpetrated the violence needlessly upon innocent men, women and children and hacked them to death and ensured that many others were burned to death in the carnage that followed such private firing."
"The incidence of Gulberg society is in fact a culmination of a series of incidents, which happened at different time frames... suddenly transgressing into this grave and heinous carnage which has resulted in the death of such large number of women, children and elderly," it said while rejecting conspiracy theory.
"The carnage took place on account of a spontaneous gathering of a large mob on accounts of the news having spread that number of persons of the majority community have been injured/killed in a private firing by Shri Ehsan Jafri, which further resulted in the entire carnage taking place," it said, while rejecting the conspiracy theory.
According to the judgment, Naran Tank alias Channelwala, a cable operator, has been directly linked to the killing of Jafri and seven others. Order said he was one of the “prime leaders” of the mob that dragged Jafri out of his house. Krishna Kumar alias Krishna was also in the mob that caught hold of the former MP.
The judge gave observations on all the convicts given life imprisonment, including Tank. “Looking at the fact that the entire incident can be termed communal in nature — a fact not denied by defence also — there is no room for any doubt that looking to the provocative slogans that were generally being chanted, looking to the fact that accused is positively guilty…,” the judge observed.
The court here today sentenced 11 convicts to life imprisonment in the case of burning alive of 69 people, including Jafri, in the 2002 post-Godhra violence.
The court also awarded 10-year jail term to one of the 13 convicted for lesser offences while 12 others have been given seven-year sentence each.
(With inputs from PTI)