Indian court acquits 70 accused in 2002 post-Godhra riots case

IndiaGUJARAT: A court in India’s Gujarat’s Banaskantha district acquitted on Friday 70 accused in the 2002 post-Godhra riots that took place in Seshan Nava village for lack of evidence, The Hindu reported.

A total of 14 Muslims were killed in the riots that broke out on March 2, 2002 while two Hindus were also killed in police firing.

Addition Sessions Judge V.K. Pujara acquitted the accused on the ground that the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence on record to prove their involvement as part of the mob participating in killings.

“The eye-witnesses in the case turned hostile and the total 109 oral witnesses did not give names of the accused and did not support the complainant’s case,” additional public prosecutor D.V. Thakor told The Hindu.

Eight of the accused persons died during the course of the trial. Mr. Thakor said 12 supplementary charge sheets were filed in this case.

According to prosecution’s case, an armed mob of around 5,000 people laid siege to the village on March 2 in the aftermath of the Sabarmati Express train burning.

They killed 14 persons of the Baloch Muslim community, including children. Gujarat is the home state of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The state has a majority Hindu population and a history of religious conflict.

At least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in Gujarat in 2002 in violence between Hindus and Muslims. Modi was chief minister of the state at the time.

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