11 get life terms for torching father, daughter in Gujrat 2002 riots

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday sentenced, to life terms, all 11 persons convicted of burning a man and his daughter to death in Mehsana district during the 2002 communal riots.

The incident occurred on March 3, 2002, a few days after Sabarmati Express train burning in Godhra that saw deaths of 59 people and led to state-wide riots.

A mob of over 200 people attacked Kalu Miyan Saiyed and his daughter Hasina Bibi in Meda-Adraj village. When the two took shelter in the house of a neighbour, the mob barged in the house and even thrashed the neighbour for protecting Muslims. The crowd later dragged the father and his daughter out in the compound and set them on fire.

Six eyewitnesses testified against the accused in a complaint filed mainly by the neighbour who had tried to protect the father and daughter from the wrath of the crowd.

In June 2005, a fast-track trial court had acquitted all the 27 people accused in the case. This was later challenged in Gujarat High Court by the complainants and the state government.

A division bench of Justice Anant Dave and Justice B.N. Karia on Thursday reversed the acquittal of 11 of them and held them guilty of murder, arson and unlawful assembly and convicted ten people under Section 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code, among other sections.