One more accused acquitted in 2002 Godhra Train Carnage case

GodhraThe acquitted accused has been identified as Ismail Chunga, a resident of Godhra. (AP)

Parimal Dabhi

A special trial court, on Saturday, acquitted one more accused in the infamous 2002 Godhra Train Carnage case. The accused was arrested at a later stage of the case in March 2011 following which a special trial court conducted his trial inside the high security Sabarmati Central Jail.

The acquitted accused has been identified as Ismail Chunga, a resident of Godhra. And the special trial court presided over by Sessions Judge, Poonam Singh, acquitted him from the case. Singh has also conducted trial of one of the two 2002 massacres of Ode town of Anand district which were further investigated by a Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team.

With Chunga, the total number of acquitted accused in the case has reached 64.

Before this, in a landmark judgment pronounced in 2011 a special trial court presided over by Sessions Judge P R Patel - had convicted 31 persons in the case while acquitting 63 in the case. Out of the 31 convicts, 11 had

been awarded death sentence by the special trial court and 11 were condemned to life imprisonment. All the convicts have moved appeals against their conviction in the Gujarat High Court (HC). At the same time, Gujarat Government has also moved appeals in the case for enhancement of some of

the convicts in the case. All the appeals are presently pending before HC. Chunga was arrested from his home on March 3 in 2011. Following which, his trial was conducted inside the Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad. He was

facing all the major charges that some of the main accused were facing like murder, attempt to murder, rioting, arson, criminal conspiracy and damage to the public property etc.

Chunga's counsel - A A Hasan said, "There were three witnesses against Chunga. While one of them - Praful Pathak was dropped by the prosecution in the trial as he had not identified the accused during the Identification Parade conducted before an Executive Magistrate. The second witness - Chhatrasinh Gambhir had identified some other person as Chunga during his identification parade and he admitted this during his cross examination during the trial. Whereas, the third witness did identify Chunga, but there were lots of discrepancies in his version of the incident." "So, the court has accepted our arguments and acquitted Chunga," Hasan added.

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