In Godhra Train Blaze, Alleged Mastermind And 30 Others Acquitted Again

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Gujarat High Court on Monday commuted death sentence of 11 convicts of Godhra train burning incident to lifetime imprisonment.

The compensation, as decided by the high court is Rs 10 lakh to the kin of each kar sevak killed.

On Monday, a division bench of justice AS Dave and justice GR Udhaari upheld life imprisonment for the 20 other convicts in the case and refused to alter the acquittal order for 63 accused.

On March 1, 2011, the special SIT court had convicted 31 persons.

The state government approached the court and sought death sentences for the 20 convicts who had been awarded life imprisonment in the case.

The burning of the kar sevaks sparked a huge riot in the Godhra region of Gujarat in which rumours spread like wildfire and around 1,000 were killed, a lot of them Muslims. May 27, 2002 Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Narendra Modi government headed by senior IPS officer Rakesh Asthana. It had acquitted 63.

Maulana Umarji, the then president of Godhra Municipality, Mohammad Hussain Kalota, Mohammad Ansari and Nanumiya Chaudhary of Gangapur, Uttar Pradesh were those acquitted and were considered as the prime accused in the case.

Indian policeman walks towards the entrance of a carriage of a train in Godhra, in the western Indian state of Gujarat February 27, 2002.

The Gujarat riots, which erupted after the train fire, pitted mobs of Hindus against Muslims, who were widely blamed for setting the fire, though arson was never confirmed. Out of over 130 accused persons, 94 could be put on trial before the trial court.

The Nanavati Commission was set up by Gujarat government in 2002 to probe the Sabarmati Express burning.

The high court's order came in appeals that challenged the convictions and acquittals handed out by a special SIT court in March 2011.

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