A local court today convicted 22 accused in the 2002 Deepda Darwaza riots case in which 11 persons of a family were killed in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage, but absolved them of the serious charges of murder and criminal conspiracy.
Designated special judge S.C. Srivastava acquitted 61 others out of the total 83 accused in the case, including former BJP MLA Prahlad Gosa and ex-municipal president of BJP Dayabhai Patel.
Out of the 22 convicted, 21 have been convicted of the charge of attempt to murder and rioting while former police inspector of Visnagar town, M. K. Patel, has been convicted of dereliction of duty. Of those acquitted, 10 have been absolved from all charges, while the rest have been given benefit of doubt.
The quantum of punishment is likely to be pronounced later in the day.
A mob had killed 11 members of a single family, including two children and a 65-year-old woman, on February 28, 2002 in Deepda Darwaza area of Visnagar town in Mehsana district of Gujarat.
Initially, charges had been framed against 83 accused, including three women, but later the court allowed the application of complainant Mohammad Iqbal Baloch, listing former BJP MLA Prahlad Gosa and former police inspector, Visnagar town M. K. Patel, as additional accused in the case taking the total number to 85.
However, one of the accused against whom charges were framed was found to be minor at the time of the crime, following which the court ordered his trial by a juvenile court, while one of the accused died during the course of trial.
During the course of trial, the court had examined 167 witnesses, out of whom 12 were prime witnesses. Among the accused in the Deepda Darwaza case, three were women who had been charged with murder and other crimes, but they were also acquitted.
Earlier, all 83 accused were charged under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempted murder), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 325 (causing grievous hurt with deadly weapons), 367 (kidnapping in order to cause grievous hurt) of Indian Penal Code among other sections.
Deepda Darwaza is one of the nine cases, including the Godhra train burning case, that was probed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on orders of the Supreme Court.