Godhra carnage verdict on February 19

Ahmedabad, January 24 (PTI): The verdict on the Godhra carnage case, where 58 people were burnt to death triggering massive communal riots across Gujarat, will be pronounced on February 19, nearly 9 years after the incident took place. Designated judge PR Patel, who completed hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defence in September last year, will pronounce the judgment on the sensitive case on February 19, special public prosecutor in the case JM Panchal said.
After completion of the hearing in September, the Supreme Court had stayed the pronouncement of the judgment. The stay, however, was lifted on October 26, 2010. The trial in the case began inside the Sabarmati jail in June 2009 with framing of the charges against the 94 accused jailed since 2002. All accused in the case have been charged with criminal conspiracy, murder and burning the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express train near Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002 in which 58 people, mostly ‘kar sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya were killed.
Following the incident, widespread communal riots broke out in different parts of the State in which over 1,000 people were killed. Prosecution slapped POTA on the accused though it was later revoked by the POTA Review Committee. The Nanavati Commission appointed by the State government to probe the Godhra carnage had concluded that the fire in the S-6 coach was not caused by an accident but due to petrol thrown at it.
“The burning of the coach S-6 was a pre-planned act. In other words, there was a conspiracy to burn the coach of Sabarmati Express train coming from Ayodhya and to cause harm to the ‘kar sevaks’ travelling in the coach,” the Nanavati Commission report submitted to the State government in September 2008 said. The Commission had also exonerated Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his council of ministers and the police from any role in the Godhra train-burning incident.