A court in Gujarat on Saturday sentenced a man to life imprisonment for his role in the 2002 train Godhra train burning case, PTI reported.

On February 27, 2002, coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire at the Godhra station, leading to the deaths of 59 persons. The coach was carrying kar sevaks who were returning from Ayodhya.

The incident triggered widespread communal riots in Gujarat, leaving 1,044 persons dead, according to official figures.

The man, Rafik Bhatuk, had been absconding for 19 years and was arrested in February 2021. The trial against him had started shortly afterwards. Bhatuk was the 35th person to have been convicted in the case, Special Public Prosecutor RC Kodekar said.

The police alleged that Bhatuk was part of a core group of accused persons who took part in the conspiracy to set fire to the train, according to the Hindustan Times. He was allegedly involved in inciting the mob and arranging for petrol to torch the train compartment.

On March 1, 2011, a special court had held 31 persons guilty in the case. Out of these, 11 were sentenced to death, while 20 were given life imprisonment.

However, in October 2017, the Gujarat High Court commuted the death sentences of the 11 convicts to life imprisonment.

Subsequently, three persons were sentenced to life imprisonment in two cases related to the burning of the train.