Firing by former lawmaker Ehsan Jafri, one of the 69 victims of the Gulbarg Society massacre in Gujarat in 2002, acted as a catalyst for the mob that killed him, a court said yesterday while sentencing 11 of the attackers to life in jail and 13 others to lesser terms.
The special court in Ahmedabad concluded that Ehsan Jafri provoked the mob that attacked the Gulbarg residential complex in Ahmedabad in February 2002, when riots swept through Gujarat in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning, leaving at least 1,000 dead.
In the Gulbarg Society killings, described by the court as the “darkest day in the history of civil society”, a large mob dragged out former Congress parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri and others living in the complex, hacked and burnt them alive in a nearly four hour carnage.
Analysing the build-up, Judge PB Desai said: “The answer is categorically found, in my opinion, is the incident of private firing on the part of the deceased Ehsan Jafri which resulted in some deaths from amongst the members of the mob and injuries to the number of persons of the mob which infuriated the mob who saw persons belonging to the majority community falling to bullets being fired from the private weapon by Ehsan Jafri.”
The evidence, said the judge, “categorically establishes that there was private firing by Ehsan Jafri from a number of locations within Gulbarg Society and upon the mob which had gathered outside.”
The judge also accused eyewitnesses of “selective amnesia” on firing by Ehsan Jafri.
“It is selective amnesia on the part of all the eye-witnesses who claim to have seen and specifically pointed out in great detail each incident and the role played by each of the specific accused, in such graphic detail, while conveniently losing all memory with regard to private firing from Ehsan Jafri’s weapon,” he said.
Ehsan Jafri’s son Tanvir Jafri has questioned the judgement. “We are not happy with the judgement. It’s being said that a witness, who’s also a victim apparently, has said that Ehsan Jafri fired some shots; why hasn’t the police presented this witness to the court then?”