We are no longer new to riots in the name of religion accompanied by hate speeches and violence that destroys thousands of lives in the spur of the moment. Talking about riots, the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind would be ‘Gujarat riots 2002’. Even the name is enough to give you goosebumps. 15 years since the events, it still has the power to enrage, agonize and shame us. Here is the list of outbreaks of communal riots and their current status.
Godhra carnage case
On February 27, 2002, Sabarmati Express was returning from Ayodhya to Ahmedabad. The train had several Hindu passengers that were returning from a religious ceremony at the demolished Babri Masjid site. Four coaches of the train were set on fire in a mysterious circumstances and took the lives of around 59 people. Following the incident a statewide bandh was announced in Gujarat and thus began an event of destroying properties, killing people and raping women, also known as ‘2002 Gujarat Riot’. The incident still remains a stain on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s career (then Chief Minister of Gujarat) who was alleged of not taking proper steps to stop the violence.
Status: The verdict in the case was delivered on March 1, 2011. 11 people were sentenced to death and 20 were awarded life term by The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) court. 63 accused including Maulavi Umarji were acquitted.
Best Bakery Case
On March 1, 2002, The Best Bakery, located in Vadodara’s Hanuman Tekri, was attacked by a mob, killing 14 people. The trial received wide attention after witnesses withdrew their testimony and all the accused were given clean chit. On a petition by social activist Teesta Setalvad, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial in the case and that too outside Gujarat. The case was transferred to Maharashtra. In 2006, a special court in Mumbai convicted nine people among the 17 accused and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Also Zaheera Sheikh, a key witness, was found guilty of perjury for changing her testimony during the trial.
Status: In 2012, The Bombay High Court set aside the trial court verdict and among the nine acquitted five and upholded the conviction of four.
Dipda Darwaza case
A family of 11 people, including four children and a senior citizen, was killed in the mob attack in their house in the Dipda Darwaja locality in North Gujarat’s Visnagar town. The incident happened on February 28, 2008, a day after the Godhra train carnage.
Status: On July 30, 2012, 22 people were convicted in the case and were awarded life term for attempt to murder. Due to lack of evidence, murder charge and criminal conspiracy was not proved. Among the convicted, one died during the trial.
Bilkis Banu case
March 3, 2002, when horrifying communal violence engulfed central Gujarat, a truck carrying 17 people, including 19-year-old Bilkis who was five-months pregnant then and her family, was moving to Radhikpur Village in Dohad district to find refuge. This truck was attacked by a mob of 35 people and soon the attackers descended on it. Around three hours later, Bilkis woke up to found herself naked amidst the 14 dead bodies. She tried to file complaint immediately but was turned away. A year later, her complaint was filed but soon closed due to inconsistencies in her statements. Later she approached the National Human Rights Commission and filed a petition at the Supreme Court and a CBI probe was asked in the case. The case was moved to Bombay High Court and a prosecutor was appointed. Soon charges was filed against 19 people including a doctor and six police officers. In January 2008, 11 people were charged for rape and murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Status: On May 4, 2017, the Bombay High Court dismissed the plea for three convicts out the 11 convicted.