Godhra train carnage: 11 get death, 20 to serve life term

Following the Godhra train burning incident on 27 February 2002, large-scale communal violence had broken out in various parts of Gujarat in which over 1,200 people died

Ahmedabad: Eleven convicts in the Godhra train burning case were today handed down death sentence while 20 others were given life imprisonment by a special court in the 2002 incident that left 59 'karsevaks' dead and triggered riots which claimed over 1,200 lives in Gujarat, reports PTI.

Special judge PR Patel considering the case as "rarest of rare" pronounced death penalty for 11 out of the 31 convicted in the case while 20 others were sentenced to life imprisonment.

"The court looking into their active role in the conspiracy and setting afire the S6 coach of the Sabarmati Express near Godhra, gave death penalty to 11 people," public prosecutor JM Panchal said.

The court also slapped punishment on them under various other sections, which will be concurrent to their life term.

The prosecution had sought death sentence for all the 31 convicts, saying that it was a heinous act.

On 22nd February the court had convicted all the 31 while accepting the prosecution's contention that there was a conspiracy behind the incident and convicted 31 under various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) like 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

They were also convicted under IPC section 147, 148 (rioting with deadly weapons), 323, 324,325,326 (causing hurt), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on religious grounds), various sections of the Indian Railways Act, Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act and Bombay Police Act.

The court had acquitted 63 others, in the burning of S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express in 2002 near Godhra railway station where 59 persons were killed.

Those who were awarded capital punishment are Bilal Ismail Abdul Majid Sujela alias Bilal Haji, Abdul Razak Mohammad Kurkur, Ramjani Binyamin Behra, Hasan Ahmed Charkha alias Lalu, Jabir Binyamin Behra, Mehboob Khalid Chanda, Salim alias Salman Yusuf Sattar Zarda, Siraj Mohammad Abdul Meda alias Bala, Irfan Abdul Majid Ganchi Kalandar alias Irfan Bhopo, Irfan Mhammad Hanifabdul Gani Pataliya and Mehbub Ahmed Yusuf Hasan alais Latiko.

Mr Panchal said the prosecution has not received the detailed copy of the judgement containing reasons for the punishment meted out and, therefore, he could not comment on the specific role and the differentiating factor due to which the 11 were given death and others life imprisonment.

The prosecutor said that this was perhaps the first case in the country in which 11 people have been awarded capital punishment.

Asked if the prosecution will appeal against the life imprisonment awarded to the 20 convicts, he said a decision to that effect will be taken by the special investigation team that probed the case.

The accused have been given 90 days time to appeal in the higher court, he said.

The time spent in jail by the 20 accused who have been awarded life, will be deducted from their total punishment, he said.

Defence counsel IM Munshi said the convicts will definitely appeal against the punishment awarded to them.

"It (the punishment) is very difficult to swallow. Till we get the copy of the judgement, we cannot comment much," Mr Munshi said.

"We will definitely appeal against the verdict in the high court. Till the high court confirms the judgement, it cannot be implemented," he said.

Following the Godhra train burning incident on 27 February 2002, large-scale communal violence had broken out in various parts of Gujarat in which over 1,200 people died, mainly belonging to the minority community.


Losses on diesel sales touch record Rs12.56 per litre

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had in his Budget speech yesterday ignored calls for a reduction in customs and excise duty to contain the impact of a spurt in global crude oil prices, which have touched a two-year high of $110 per barrel

New Delhi: Losses on the sale of diesel at government-controlled rates have hit a record Rs12.56 a litre even as state-owned firms look at ways to mitigate a spurt in the cost of raw material (crude oil), reports PTI.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) are selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene way below cost as the government battles to control inflation.

"Diesel is being sold at a discount of Rs12.56 per litre to its imported cost," an industry official said.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had in his Budget for 2011-12 ignored calls for a reduction in customs and excise duty to contain the impact of a spurt in global crude oil prices, which have touched a two-year high of $110 per barrel.

Oil minister S Jaipal Reddy had last week stated he would take the case for an auto fuel price hike to an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Mr Mukherjee after the budget.

The retail price of diesel would have to be hiked by Rs12.56 a litre if the government was to implement its June 2010, decision of freeing pricing of the most-consumed fuel from its control.

The three state retailers are together losing over Rs237 crore per day in revenue on the sale of diesel below its imported cost.

"This is the biggest loss they have ever incurred," the official said.

Besides diesel, IOC, BPCL and HPCL are losing Rs24.74 per litre on kerosene and Rs297.80 per 14.2-kg LPG cylinder.

The three firms are losing a total of Rs392 crore in revenue every day on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below cost.

"For the full fiscal, the three are projected to lose Rs77,645 crore in revenues at current prices," the official said.

In addition, they suffer a loss of about Rs2.50 per litre on petrol sales, even though prices were freed from government control in June last year.

If prices are not hiked, the government will have to come up with other ways to compensate the oil marketing companies for their losses.

The oil ministry wants the finance ministry to compensate the oil companies in cash for at least half of their under-recoveries by making adequate provisions in the budget.

Upstream oil firms like Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will shoulder one-third of the burden.

For the first nine months, the finance ministry has approved the release of a cash compensation of Rs21,000 crore for the three state-run fuel retailers.


High global crude, commodity rates may add to inflation: FM

With crude oil prices in the international market ruling above $100 a barrel and the crisis worsening in Libya and other Middle East countries, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "We are already confronting (the situation)"

New Delhi: Grappling with a high rate of price rice, the government today expressed concern that increasing prices of crude and other commodities in global markets could add to inflationary pressure in the country, reports PTI.

"The possibility of the global commodity inflation adding to domestic inflationary pressures cannot be ruled out," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said at the 83rd Annual General Meeting of industry chamber Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) here.

Noting that the steady increase of international crude oil and other commodity prices is a reality, the minister said, "We are already confronting (the situation)."

He made these comments a day after presentation of Budget proposals for 2011-12 that seek to raise the economic growth rate to about 9% from 8.6% in the current fiscal.

Crude oil prices in the international market are ruling above $100 a barrel and with the crisis worsening in Libya and other Middle East countries, they may go up further.

Although food inflation declined from 20.2% in February 2010, to 9.3% in January 2011, it still remains a concern for the government.

Headline inflation in January, at 8.23%, is above the comfort level of around 5%-6%.

The challenge before the government and the monetary authority (Reserve Bank of India), Mr Mukherjee said, has been to support the recovery process without compromising stability. "The task has not been easy, but we are making progress," he added.

With a view to control inflation, the RBI has increased key policy rates seven times since March 2010.

The finance minister said there is a need to improve the supply response of agriculture to expanding domestic demand and significantly enhance investment in the sector by the private and public sector.

He further said that as government spending comes down as a part of the fiscal consolidation process, India needs to effect adjustments in the composition of growth on the demand and supply side.

"We have to ensure that the revival in private investment is sustained and goes back close to pre-crisis growth rates.

This requires a stronger fiscal consolidation to enlarge the resource space for private enterprises," he said.

He further said that India's growth story is comforting, but there are several challenges that the economy faces in the external and domestic context.

He said the global recovery is fragile, with advanced economies exhibiting a large fiscal deficit, high public debt and unemployment, and there is a danger of the sovereign crisis in some Euro zone countries spilling over to other financial markets.


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