2002 Gujarat riots: 21 convicted in Dipda Darwaza riots case, 61 acquitted
A special court on Monday held 21 guilty of rioting and attempt to murder in the Dipda Darwaza case in which 11 Muslims were killed during the post-Godhra riots in 2002. No murder and criminal conspiracy charges were proved in the case.
All the accused were absolved of destruction of evidence charges. Designated judge SC Srivastava acquitted 61 persons of all the charges. Of these, 51 were given benefit of doubt. Two politicians the then BJP MLA Prahlad Gosa and Visnagar municipality president Dahyabhai Patel were also acquitted by the court after giving them benefit of doubt.
The police inspector and first investigator, M K Patel has been convicted for dereliction of duty. He is the first police officer to be convicted in the 2002 riot cases. All the convicts except one- Ashok Parmar belong to the Patel community of Gujarat.
This is the fifth such case, out of total nine cases, wherein further probe has been conducted by the SIT. The convictions were recorded in four cases earlier. Eighty five persons were charged for the February 28, 2002 killings in Chudiwas of Dipda Darwaza area of Visnagar town in north Gujarat.
Those who were killed included four children, one as young as one year old Abid- and five women. All those killed belonged to one family. Their remains were found near a pond a kilometer away from Chudiwas a week after the incident, when the forensic experts visited the spot for the first time.
Seven accused were arrested from the spot on the day of the massacre, which began at 4.30 in the afternoon and lasted till 9.00pm. The local cops arrested 79 people. While one Vishnu Patel was found to be juvenile, and another Dahyalal Patel died during pendency of trial, 83 persons were tried for the alleged offence.
When the probe was transferred to the SIT in 2008, four more arrests took place, including the first investigator and police inspector, M K Patel. He was charged with dereliction of duty, shielding accused and destruction of evidence.
He made the kin of the accused persons witnesses so as to weaken the case. On the basis of witnesses’ testimony and upon their request, the court arraigned the then BJP MLA Prahlad Gosa and president of Visnagar municipality Dahyabhai Patel as accused on February 10, 2010.
The duo was never arraigned by the SIT despite repeated representations made by the witnesses. They were accused of conspiracy and inciting the mob to target Muslims.
Dipda Darwaza case: Fact file
Death – 11
Accused – 85
Tried – 83
Witnesses – 157
Witnesses injured – 15
Arrests by Gujarat police – 79
Arrests by SIT – 4
Court arraigned – 2
Exonerated – 10
Acquitted on benefit of doubt – 51
Convicted for attempt to murder and rioting- 21