Ahmedabad: The state government has challenged a trial court's decision to acquit 61 persons in the Godhra train burning case in Gujarat High Court and sought death sentences for twenty convicts awarded life imprisonment in the case.

An appeal challenging the trial court's verdict in the case was filed in the High Court on Friday, Special public prosecutor J M Panchal said here.
     
Eleven persons had been awarded death sentence and 20 others given life sentences by the special trial court on March 1 this year in the 2002 Godhra train burning case.
     
Fifty-nine people -- mostly karsevaks returning from Ayodhya -- had died in the train fire, triggering riots in the state, in which over 1,000 persons, mainly from the minority community, were killed.

The trial court had acquitted 63 people in the case for want of evidence. Special public prosecutor J M Panchal said that the prosecution yesterday filed appeal against acquittal of 61 persons in the High Court.

"We have not challenged the acquittal of one Namumiya Chaudhary, and another person who died after the verdict. So the acquittal of 61 people has been challenged," Panchal said.

"We have also prayed for enhancement of sentence of 20 people who have been given life imprisonment," he said.
     
The appeal will come up for hearing in due course, he said. Those acquitted by the trial court include the prime accused Maulana Umarji, Mohammad Hussain Kalota, who was president of the Godhra Municipality at the time, and Mohammad Ansari.

The 31 persons convicted in the case, including the 11 who were awarded the death sentence, have also filed appeals in the High Court.

The application for the confirmation of the death sentences -- a death sentence has to be confirmed by the High Court -- is also before the Court.

 

(Agencies)