Gujarat massacre: 11 life sentences for anti-Muslim riots, but "this is not justice"

Ehsan Jafri's widow is deeply disappointed. Her husband was hacked to death and burnt alive. A court today sentenced 11 Hindu extremists to life in prison in connection with his death and that of 68 Muslims at the Gulbarg housing complex. Twelve were handed down a seven-year sentence, whilst ine accused got ten years.” We will appeal against the lesser sentence,” one activist said.

Ahmedabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A court in India has ruled on the Gulberg Society massacre carried out during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat.

The Special Investigation Team court in Ahmedabad sentenced 11 people to life in prison. Twelve people were given a seven-year jail sentence. One convict got 10 years in prison.

The families of the victims reacted bitterly to the decision; they had hoped that all the accused would be sentenced to life.

"I am not satisfied; I am not happy. I will have to consult my lawyers again. This is not justice," said Zakia Jafri, wife of Ehsan Jafri, a prominent Congress Party official killed during the massacre.

"They brutally killed Ehsan Jafri, stripped him, chopped off his limbs and burnt him alive in the street . . . Is this the punishment? Why this selective sentencing? They should have all got life imprisonment," she said.

Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 residents of the Gulbarg housing complex in Ahmedabad who were dragged out, hacked and burnt by a large mob during the riots that swept through Gujarat in February, 2002.

The latter broke out following the Godhra train burning on 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.

It is estimated that over the following three months, more than a thousand Muslims were massacred in different cities of Gujarat.

India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in 2002 was the state’s chief minister, was blamed for the violence.

Specifically, he was accused of failing to intervene when riots broke out and of doing nothing to investigate them afterwards.

Although a court acquitted him of all charges in 2012, critics continue to hound him with it.

One of the 12 people sentenced to seven years is Atul Vaidhya, a leader with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an ultra-nationalist grouping.

"We welcome the verdict but we are disappointed with the lesser sentence," said activist Teesta Setalvad. "We will appeal against the lesser sentence for those who haven't been awarded life imprisonment," she added.