Ahmedabad: Expressing disappointment over the quantum of punishment by the special court senetencing 11 to life and sparing others with few years in jail, Congress lawmaker Ehsan Jafri's widow Zaki Jafri on Friday vowed to continue her legal battle and file an appeal in higher court.
“They stripped him, chopped off his limbs and burnt him alive on the street. Is this the punishment for that brutal killing?” asked the 78-year-old woman who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle for justice, saying she was a witness to the “brutal” killing of her husband.
Indicating she would approach the higher court, Zakia said she would talk to her lawyer for the next step.
Civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad said it was a “diluted and weak” judgment and vowed to appeal against it.
“Eleven people were given life imprisonment since they were convicted in serious offences. But the biggest disappointment for us is the rest of the convicts, including 12 given seven years of imprisonment,” she said.
Zaki and Teesta were responding to the Ahmedabad Court judgement Friday sentencing 11 to life for burning alive 69 people.
Rejecting the demand for death sentence for all the convicts, the court said life imprisonment for the 11 will be till death if the state does not exercise power to remit the sentence, which Special court Judge P B Desai said was not necessary.
It awarded ten-year jail term to one of the 13 convicted for lesser offences while the other 12 have been given a seven-year sentence each. The prosecution had argued that all the 24 convicts should be given death penalty.
While describing the massacre as the darkest day in the history of civil society, the judge refused death penalty saying, "If you look at all aspects, no previous antecedent has been placed on record".
The judge also said he would not write in the verdict that those convicted of murder and sentenced to life must be kept in prison till their last breath in view of their good conduct while on bail and in jail.
The Gulbarg massacre was among 10 deadliest incidents during the riots investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).
The massacre at the Gulbarg society, which was home to upper middle class Gujarati Muslims in the Hindu-dominated Chamanpura area of Ahmedabad, was one of the most horrific outbursts of violence during the Gujarat riots which were sparked off by a train burning at Godhra that led to the death of 59 Hindus, mostly VHP supporters.
The Gulbarg killings took place when a 20,000-25,000-strong armed mob attacked the housing society. Witnesses would later say that police failed to rescue the victims despite their repeated requests — and though the area was located in the heart of Ahmedabad.