Twenty-three people have been convicted in the Ode massacre case in which 23 people were burnt alive by a mob during the Gujarat riots of 2002. Announcing the verdict on Monday the special court acquitted 23 others in the case. A total of 47 people had been chargesheeted in the case. While one person died during the course of the trial, two are still absconding.
At least 23 people taking shelter in a house at Ode village in Anand district were killed on March 1, 2002 when a mob set it on fire during the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat.
The verdict was delivered by special court judge PB Singh. The Ode massacre was one amongst the nine post-Godhra riot cases investigated by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT).
The massacre took place after 59 karsevaks returning from Ayodhya were burnt to death after a fire broke out in the S6 compartment of Sabarmati Express train at Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002.
After allegations that Gujarat Police had not been able to investigate the case impartially, it was handed over to the Supreme Court-appointed SIT, which filed a chargesheet against 47 accused in the case.
The trial finally started in November 2009 and 158 witnesses were cross-questioned out of which 35 turned hostile.
The SIT urged the court to place the massacre in the rarest of the rare category. It is, therefore, likely to seek capital punishment or life sentence for the accused who were allegedly actively involved in the massacre.
Out of the 10 riot cases investigated by the SIT on the instructions of the Supreme Court Court, the Ode massacre is the third in which a judgement has been delivered.