Photo for representative purposes only

Vadodara: Rafik Bhatuk, one of the first accused in the 2002 Godhra Sabarmati Express case of carnage, on Saturday he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Bhatuk was captured by Godhra in February 2021 nearly 19 years after the accident.
Bhatuk would have been one of the first accused in the carnage case that took place on February 27, 2002. On that day, 59 Ramsevak who were returning from Ayodhya were killed when the train’s S-6 car was set ablaze after sprinkling it with gasoline. The carnage sparked municipal riots in the state.
Special Court Judge HP Mehta in Godhra found Bhatuk guilty on Saturday. Special prosecutor RC Kodekar said Bhatuk was sentenced to life in prison. He added that he was the 35th accused in the case to be found guilty.
As many as 31 defendants were found guilty in March 2011 by the special court. This was followed by the conviction of two defendants in 2018 and one in 2019.
The Special Operations Group (SOG) of Panchmahal Police and Godhra City Police had captured Bhatuk from Falia signal location of the city in February last year. He sold fruit to make a living in the city.
Bhatuk had fled from Godhra after being named accused in the case. On the run, he went to Delhi and other places. He used to be inside Mohammadi Mohalla to Godhra when the accident happened, but later moved on to Signal Falia.

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