Ahmedabad: As many as 84 survivors of the 2002 Naroda Patiya riot case, where 97 people of the minority community were killed, today wrote a letter to the acting chief justice of the Gujarat High Court seeking transfer of their case to another court. At present, appeals of the convicts in Naroda Patiya riot case is being heard by the high court division bench of Justice Ravi Tripathi and Justice R D Kothari. However, riot victims have written in to the Acting Chief Justice V M Sahai expressing their apprehensions.
“It is our most earnest request to the acting chief justice to transfer the above cases (appeals of the convicts in Naroda Patiya riot case) to some other division bench because we have reasons to believe that the division bench headed by justice Ravi Tripathi has made up its mind to allow the appeals and acquit the offenders,” the letter reads. The letter is written by survivor and witness in the case Rahemeutulla Sheikh and 83 others who have signed it.
The riot victims have also questioned the recent judgement by the same bench, which had granted bail to one of the convicts Kirpalsingh Chhabra on February 26. The division bench had then suspended the sentence of Chhabra, who was personal assistant of another convict and former state minister Maya Kodnani, till his appeal against the trial court order is pending before the high court.
The survivors also questioned the verdict of division bench, which had put doubts on the trial court’s judgement of convicting Chhabra and 30 others. A Special trial court had, in August, 2012, convicted 31 persons and awarded life term to 30 including Kodnani for killings and criminal conspiracy, while it had also awarded ‘imprisonment till death’ to right-wing group ‘Vishwa Hindu Parishad’ (VHP) leader Babu Bajrangi.
Two convicts including Chhbra and Kodnani were granted bail in this case. Kodnani was released last year by the high court division bench comprising Justice V M Sahai and Justice R P Dholaria. Naroda Patiya massacre, where 97 people were killed, had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.