BY : Zeta Teresa Pereira
On February 28, 2002, in Sardarpura, a mob comprising local Hindus burnt kiosks owned by Muslims. The mob led by Hindutva activists attacked three Muslim localities in Sardarpura. To save themselves, women and children had to hide in a house. However, when the mob discovered them, they threw acid at the helpless women and children. There were 31 of them in the room and the mob managed to kill 29 brutally by shoving an iron rod. The mob blocked the roads to prevent the Muslims from escaping. Out of the 76 accused arrested in the Sardarpura case, 31 were convicted by special riots court. Of the accused, 31 were acquitted over benefit of doubt and 11 were discharged. Later, the High Court upheld the conviction of 17. A few days after, a mob of Hindus led by political activists attacked dozens of Muslim homes in Gujarat’s ode village. The mob set on fire the house they sought refuge. 27 Muslims were killed in three separate incidents at Ode village.
CURRENT ISSUE :
The Supreme Court on 28 th January 2020, granted bail to 17 convicts in the 2002 Sardarpura massacre and 14 convicts in the Ode village massacre who had appealed against the High Court order upholding their conviction. The bench ordered the convicts to undertake social service while out on bail.
QUESTION OF LAW :
41 accused persons were arrested in both cases but were granted bail almost immediately. Even the remand application was rejected by the first class magistrate. A revision of the remand application was made in the sessions court but the Supreme court released the 16 accused on regular bail while the revision was pending. In 2011, 23 accused persons were convicted out of which 18 were given life sentences. In 2018, the High Court upheld the conviction of 19 persons, including 14 who had been sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Supreme Court has directed the District Legal Services Authorities at Indore and Jabalpur to ensure that the convicts observe bail conditions diligently.