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Published in the 16-30 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

105 killed, none convicted 

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: The investigation, trial and verdict acquitting the accused in two of the most gruesome post-Godhra communal riot cases, Limbadiya Chowkdi and Pandarwala massacres in the Panchmahals district, are reflective of how 50-odd post-Godhra riot cases were closed by the state machinery. 

One hundred and five people belonging to the minority community were done to death in these tribal villages in two separate incidents of communal carnage on Mach 1 and 2, 2002, but none of the accused was convicted for the crime.
The Limbadiya Chowkdi massacre on March 2, 2002 claimed 84 lives of the minority community hailing from Kidiyad village, near Modara. The ill-fated victims on the run from their village in two ‘tempos’ to seek shelter in another village were attacked and killed between Limbadiya Chowkdi and Khanpur Chowkdi.

Of the 27 accused, 12 were caught and chargesheeted. But the court acquitted Kalu Maliwad and 11 others on October 11, 2002 for lack of substantial proof against them.

The court while passing the order of acquittal pointed out to shoddy investigation and police laxity in the entire episode and raised doubts about the FIR filed in the case.

The court did not buy the ‘excuse’ of investigation officials with regard to their delay in furnishing the FIR copy of the case to a first class judicial magistrate within 24 hours of filling the complaint, as required by law. The police had informed the court that it was taking care of law and order situation in the region and hence it could not submit the FIR in time.

No hue and cry was raised on the acquittal of the accused in these cases. More than a year later, the state government filed a criminal appeal in the Gujarat High Court in these cases because the Supreme Court reprimanded the Modi government for its shoddy approach in handling post-Godhra riot cases. 
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