Overturning a trial court judgement, the Gujarat High Court has convicted seven persons for murder in a 2002 post-Godhra riots case in Viramgam town in the district. The court has asked the seven who have been convicted for murder to appear before it on July 25, when it will pronounce the quantum of sentence to them. There were total 10 accused in the Viramgam town riot case, out of which the trial court had in 2011 convicted two for murder, four of lesser offences while four others were acquitted. The High Court also upheld the trial court order convicting two on charges of murder and acquitted another accused Devabhai Samatbhai Bharwad.
With this ruling, a division bench of Justice Harsh Devani and Justice Biren Vaishnav, in a judgement on Monday, has convicted a total of nine persons for murder and acquitted one in the riot case where three people were killed in Viramgam. The court will pass order on their quantum of sentence on July 25. The seven who were found guilty of murder by the High court are: Satabhai alias Haider Gela Bharwad, Naranbhai Samantbhai Bharwad, Udaji Ranchhodbhai Thakor, Valabhai Gelabhai Bharwad, Viththal alias Kuchiyo Moti Bharwad, Mulabhai Gelabhai Bharwad and Merabhai Gelabhai Bharwad.
They were convicted for offences under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons), 325 and 326 (causing grevious hurt) of the IPC. The case dates back to February 28, 2002, a day after Sabarmati Express train was burnt in Godhra killing 59 kar sevaks, triggering state-wide riots. A mob of around 40 people had attacked a Muslim locality in Viramgam armed with sharp weapons and tried to demolish a dargah. When Muslim residents tried to prevent them from doing so, they were attacked, leading to the death of three persons. Dostmmohammad Bhatti, an eyewitness, had sought further investigation in the matter from the High Court before conviction, which in 2010 had directed the then Ahmedabad SP (rural) Sandeep Singh to re-investigate the case.