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Gujarat government challenges Best Bakery acquittals
August 07, 2003 18:17 IST
Last Updated: August 07, 2003 18:46 IST
The Gujarat government on Thursday filed an appeal in the high court challenging the June 27, 2003, order of a fast track court in Vadodara acquitting 21 people accused in the Best Bakery massacre during the post-Godhra riots.
A mob had ransacked and torched Best Bakery on March 1, 2002, at the Hanuman Tekri area and slaughtered 12 people, including women and children. Two persons are still missing since the incident.
Several crucial witnesses, including Zaheera Sheikh, daughter of the bakery owner Habibullah who was among those killed, turned hostile during the trial.
The government also moved an application challenging the decision of a Godhra sessions court to acquit several people accused of atrocities and rioting during the communal violence.
Sessions Judge K C Kella had acquitted one Sajid alias Rabdi Hanif Jamal Sheikh in a case of atrocity and rioting after he allegedly led a mob attack on a dalit colony in Lunawada town of Vadodara on March 1.
However, no one was killed in the incident.
The government's action came after the National Human Rights Commission called the acquittals prima facie a 'miscarriage of justice' and demanded a retrial outside Gujarat.
"The Gujarat government must appeal against the verdict and if it does not, the relatives of the victims, complainants, can also seek permission of the court and file an appeal against the acquittal," NHRC chairman Justice A S Anand said on July 3.
The next day the NHRC decided to send a three-member team to Vadodara to 'inspect the records of the case and examine the judgment'.
On July 31, the NHRC petitioned the Supreme Court for a retrial outside Gujarat of the bakery case and four other serious cases pertaining to the riots.
The four other cases related to Godhra, Chamanpura (Gulbarga Society), Naroda Patia and Sadarpura in Mehsana district.
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