High Court upholds Godhra train conviction, reduces sentence

The Gujarat High Court has upheld the conviction of a special court that found 31 people to be involved in a conspiracy to commit the arson attack on the train.

However, eleven death sentences were commuted to the life terms. The victims or the kins have been ordered to be compensated by up to Rs 10 lakhs.

31 people, all Muslims, were convicted, while 63 were acquitted by the special court.

The convicts were described as a “core committee” that played a crucial role in organizing a mob of nearly 1,000 people and more than 100 litres of petrol to set the train on fire.

The attack on the train, which was carrying Hindu pilgrims, had caused the worst religious riots in India since the Sikhs were attacked by Congress workers in 1984 after Indira Gandhi was gunned down.

The Godhra train burning was an incident that occurred on the morning of 27 February 2002, in which 59 people died in a fire inside the Sabarmati Express train near the Godhra railway station in the Indian state of Gujarat.

The victims included Hindu pilgrims who were returning from the city of Ayodhya after a religious ceremony at the disputed Babri Masjid site.

The commission set up by the Government of Gujarat to investigate the train burning spent 6 years going over the details of the case, and concluded that the fire was arson committed by a mob of 1,000 to 2,000 people.

A commission appointed by the central government, whose appointment was later held to be unconstitutional, stated that the fire had been an accident.