A special court in Ahmedabad on Monday awarded life imprisonment to two men convicted in the 2002 Godhra train burning carnage in which 59 people were killed. Local media reported.
Judge H.C. Vora awarded life sentence to Farooq Bhana and Imran Sheru and after the prosecution established their role as conspirators in setting ablaze two coaches of the Sabarmati Express on 27 February 2002.
The court acquitted three others, including Hussain Suleman Mohan, Kasam Bhamedai, and Faruk Dhantiya.
The five were caught in 2015-16 and they were tried at a special court set up at the Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad. Eight accused in the case are still absconding.
The train was returning with passengers from a religious site in Ayodhya where groups of Hindus and Muslims are locked in a long-standing dispute. As many as 59 ‘kar sevaks’ were charred to death when a mob attacked the train and torched the S6 coach near Godhra railway station in February 2002.
The train fire triggered communal riots across Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people were killed.
The investigation into the train carnage was carried out by local police before the Supreme Court transferred the probe to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in 2008 which prosecuted 94 persons.
The trial at the special SIT court began in June 2009 with the framing of charges against 94 accused of whom 63 were acquitted. The court had also ruled that a criminal conspiracy had led to the train fire incident.
The Nanavati Commission, appointed by the Gujarat government to probe the train burning, had in its report concluded that the fire was not an accident, but a conspiracy and that the coach was set ablaze by a mob.
The court had on 1 March 2011, convicted the 31 people of murder and conspiracy. It later awarded death sentence to 11 of them and life imprisonment to 20 others. The court had acquitted 63 others.
The Gujarat high court, however, in October 2017 commuted the death sentence of 11 to life imprisonment and upheld the punishment awarded by the SIT court.