2002 Gujarat riots: 22 accused of killing 17 Muslims acquitted

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A Gujarat court on Tuesday acquitted 22 persons accused of killing 17 Muslims, including two children, during the 2002 riots in the state, due to lack of evidence, reported PTI. Out of the 22 accused, eight had died during the trial.

Communal riots had erupted in Gujarat in February and March of 2002 after a coach of Sabarmati Express carrying Hindu pilgrims from Ayodhya was burnt in Godhra. Fifty-nine persons had died in the incident that took place on February 27, 2002.

The 22 persons were arrested in 2004 after they were accused of killing 17 Muslims in Delol village on February 28, 2002. According to the prosecution, they had also burnt the bodies of those they killed with an intention to destroy evidence.

However, all the accused had been out since 2004 after the Gujarat High Court granted them bail, reported The Times of India.

“The court examined all the evidence, including the bones reported to be of the victims, but it was inconclusive in forensic tests,” advocate Gopalsinh Solanki, who represented all the accused, told The Times of India. “Also, over 100 witnesses were examined, many of whom turned hostile.”

The role of police had also been questioned in the case as the first information report was registered in December 2003, nearly two years after the killings.

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