Mumbai Court Acquits 2 Accused In Best Bakery Case

Fourteen people were killed at Best Bakery in Vadodara on March 1, 2002, following an attack by a mob comprising over 1000 people during Gujarat communal riots.


Bombay High Court

A Mumbai Court on Tuesday acquitted two accused—Harshad Raoji Bhai Solanki and Mafat Manilal Gohil in Best Bakery case.

Solanki and Gohil were facing charges under the sections of IPC, including murder, destruction of evidence and attempt to murder.

The other two accused Jayantibhai Gohil and Ramesh aka Rinku Gohil died in jail during trial.

Best Bakery Case:

In 2002 in Vadodara, during the Gujarat carnage, at least 14 people were charred to death alive. 

Around 8.30pm on March 1, 2002 - two days after the Godhra incident - the mob gathered outside the residential building and bakery and set it on fire. Many died in the fire during the night. Those who survived till morning were made to get down from the terrace of the building and were attacked with sticks and swords. Some died of injuries.


Case Timeline:

Ten witnesses including a bakery worker deposed in the trial that commenced in 2019.

In 2012, the Bombay high court upheld the life term awarded to four accused and acquitted five others.

In 2012 Bombay High Court held Sanjay Thakkar, Dinesh Rajbhar, Jeetu Chauhan and Shanabhai Baria guilty of the killings. 

The court kept the testimony of Zahira Shaikh and her entire family at arm’s length. It was, in fact, a plea by Zahira that had led the Supreme Court to order a retrial and transfer the case to Mumbai.

In 2006, the special Mumbai court convicted nine accused. The prosecution case was that the accused were part of the mob of 1,200 that had attacked the only Muslim family -that of the late Habibullah Khan, Zahira's father who owned Best Bakery - in the Hanuman Tekri locality in Vadodara during the Gujarat riots.


The case was first tried in a Vadodara court where all accused were acquitted in 2003.

The main witness Zahira Sheikh had turned hostile and claimed she could not identify the accused. In April 2004, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial outside Gujarat.

Harshad was arrested by Rajasthan police in 2010, while Mafat was arrested from his home in Gujarat by NIA in March 2013. Two others who were also absconding and were subsequently arrested, died in jail.

The duo claimed they were unaware of the retrial, as they were absent and were wrongly considered as absconding. They said they were arrested by CBI in another matter and were held in Jaipur. 

In December 2013, they were produced in court in Mumbai in connection with the bakery blast case.