Gujarat riots convicts engage in community service


AHMEDABAD, INDIA:  (FILES) In this picture taken 01 March 2002, An Indian policeman looks on as a row of shops burns in Ahmedabad.  Top police official  R. B. Sreekumar in an explosive testimony has said the anti-Muslim riots that raged in India's Gujarat state two years ago was backed by its ruling Hindu nationalist government, officials reported 18 August 2004. The 172-page testimony was unveiled a day after India's Supreme Court Tuesday reopened 2,000 cases from the riots which claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, in the western Indian state. AFP PHOTO/STR  (Photo credit should read STR/AFP via Getty Images)
AHMEDABAD, INDIA: (FILES) In this picture taken 01 March 2002, An Indian policeman looks on as a row of shops burns in Ahmedabad. Top police official R. B. Sreekumar in an explosive testimony has said the anti-Muslim riots that raged in India's Gujarat state two years ago was backed by its ruling Hindu nationalist government, officials reported 18 August 2004. The 172-page testimony was unveiled a day after India's Supreme Court Tuesday reopened 2,000 cases from the riots which claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, in the western Indian state. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP via Getty Images)

THIRTEEN convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 post-Godhra riot case in Gujarat have arrived in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to engage in community service.



Seven of the convicts will work as volunteers for the Narmada Kumbh, a Hindu conglomeration held every five years on the Narmada river’s banks, scheduled to be held from February 24 to March 3. The other six will engage in temple service in the city of Indore.

The Supreme Court of India had last month granted bail to 15 convicts—sentenced to life imprisonment for a massacre in Ode town of Gujarat’s Anand district in which 23 people were burnt to death—on the condition that they will stay outside Gujarat and do community service at Indore and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.

The convicts, aged between 41 and 65, will take up community services, meditation sessions and spiritual programmes as per the apex court’s directives.



“Seven of these convicts reached Jabalpur on Tuesday night. They will be volunteering at the Narmada Kumbh,” said Madhya Pradesh State Legal Services Authority member secretary Giribala Singh.

Apart from the Narmada Kumbh, the convicts will work as volunteers in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), at old age homes, and take care of destitute or abandoned hospital patients, said Singh.

Efforts will be made to help the convicts pick up work under the Smart City project underway here so that they can earn their livelihood, she said.



“All these works will instil in them a feeling of serving the community,” Singh said.

Indore’s District Legal Aid Officer Subhash Chaudhary said: “As per the Supreme Court’s bail conditions, the convicts have started community service in the city (Indore). Currently they are engaged in cleaning of the kitchen and other parts of the premises in a local temple.”

Besides carrying out other duties assigned to them, the convicts will also take part in the morning and evening prayers at the temple.



The identities of the convicts were being withheld for safety reasons, said officials.