The Gujarat High Court on Monday sentenced three of the convicts in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case – Umesh Bharwad, Padmendrasinh Rajput and Rajkumar Chaumal – to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and fined each of them Rs 1,000, ANI reported. They were convicted of offences such as stone pelting and arson.
The court noted that the punishment must be consistent with the brutality of the crime, PTI reported. The court gave them six weeks to surrender before the police.
The High Court had held the three guilty on April 20, but they sought further hearing on their quantum of sentence on the ground that they were not properly represented.
The three were found guilty under Section 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house) of the Indian Penal Code.
“The court cannot set aside the agony and anguish of the victims,” said the court. “Offences are not against individuals but society at large and has consequences of polarising society.”
In April, the court upheld a trial court order convicting Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, but acquitted former Bharatiya Janata Party minister Maya Kodnani. The court had also convicted the three sentenced on Monday – a Special Investigation Team court had acquitted them earlier.
At least 97 Muslims were killed in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area on February 28, 2002, when a mob comprising thousands of people descended upon the locality, and murdered them. The incident was one of the worst cases of mob violence during the Gujarat riots.