Indian court acquits all accused in 2002 mass killing of Muslims
New Delhi, Apr 20 (EFE).- A special court in India’s western state of Gujarat on Thursday acquitted all the accused in the killing of 11 Muslims during inter-religious clashes in 2002, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the head of the provincial government.
“The court has acquitted all of them,” one of the defense lawyers said outside the court, explaining that initially charges had been brought against 83 people.
The acquitted people include Maya Kodnani – a radical leader of the ruling Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party led by Modi – who previously served as the women and child development minister of Gujarat.
Several other prominent Hindu hardliners had also been charged in the case.
The incident, known as the Naroda Gam massacre after the locality where it took place, was part of large-scale mob violence against Muslims by Hindus seeking revenge after a train wagon full of Hindu pilgrims and activists was set on fire in Gujarat, killing 59 people.
In Naroda Gam, a suburb of the city of Ahmedabad, 11 Muslims were burnt alive after a mob set their houses on fire.
At the time, Kodnani was a prominent member of the BJP, and was later accused of “actively participating” in instigating the violence by an investigation commission.
In 2012, Kodnani was convicted along with 31 others of organizing the mass killing of 106 Muslims in the neighboring locality of Naroda Patiya in 2002, as she was found guilty of distributing weapons and inciting hate against the minority Muslims.
However, in 2018 the Gujarat High Court reversed her life imprisonment and acquitted her of being responsible for the killings, stating that no witness had admitted seeing her in Naorda Patiya during the massacre.
The same year, the High Court also revoked the life sentences given to 14 of the convicts and sustained the prison terms of 17 others who were convicted in 2011 in the Sardarpura massacre, another case in which Muslim victims were burnt alive.
The interfaith violence in Gujarat took place at a time when Modi was the state’s chief minister, and he has repeatedly been accused of not doing enough to stop the violence, the worst religious clashes in recent decades in which more than 1,000 people were killed.
In February 2023, BBC released a documentary on Modi’s role in the February 2002 Gujarat violence, which was banned by the Indian government. Indian authorities soon raided the British broadcaster’s offices in India, ostensibly over tax irregularities. EFE