Friday, August 31, 2012

Eyewitness accounts were key: HC

Of the 21 accused initially charged with murder and acquitted by a trial court in Gujarat, only 17 faced retrial in a special Mumbai court. In 2006, the special Mumbai court had convicted nine accused. The prosecution case was that the accused were part of the mob of 1,200 that had set upon the only Muslim family—that of late Habibullah Khan, Zahira’s father who owned Best Bakery—in the Hanuman Tekri locality in Vadodara during the Gujarat riots.
    Around 8.30pm on March 1, 2002—two days after the Godhra incident—the mob gathered outside the residential building and bakery and set it on fire. Many died in the fire during the night. Those who survived till morning were made to get down from the terrace of the building, and were attacked with sticks and swords. Some succumbed to the injuries.
    The high court observed that the four survivors—Taufel Siddiqiue, Raees Khan, Shehzad Khan Pathan and Shailun Pathan—all originally from Uttar Pradesh, had given a graphic account of the incident.