Godhra court on Saturday sentenced an accused of the 2002 Godhra train massacre case to life imprisonment. The train set ablaze killed 59 people and set off the deadliest riots in Gujarat’s history. The people who lost their lives on the train were ‘karsevaks’ returning from Ayodhya on 27 February 2002.
The offender, Rafik Bhatuk, was arrested last year in February 2021. An additional sessions court gave him a life sentence in Godhra in Gujarat’s Panchmahal district. The burning of this train led to massive communal riots in Gujarat. Witnessing over 1,200 people, primarily belonging to minority communities, killed.
According to special public prosecutor RC Kodekar, Bhatuk is the 35th defendant to have proven guilty by the court in the case thus far.
In February of last year, Bhatul was taken into police custody by a Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Panchmahal police in a neighbourhood in Godhra town. After naming a suspect in the case, he fled Godhra and stayed in several cities and villages before returning.
On March 1, 2011, an SIT court convicted 31 persons guilty in the case, of whom 20 received life sentences. Meanwhile, 11 others received the death penalty.
In October 2017, the Gujarat High Court upheld the sentences given to 20 additional convicts by the special SIT court. Meanwhile, commuting 11 death sentences to life imprisonment. Later, three other convicts in the case received life imprisonment on two separate occasions.