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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Gujarat train fire probe launched
Godhra train
Fifty-eight Hindu activists were killed in the attack
A retired Indian judge has been named to hold a fresh inquiry into an alleged attack on a train which triggered religious riots in Gujarat state.

The new Indian government had promised a fresh investigation into the case.

Fifty-eight people were killed when the train carrying Hindu activists was allegedly torched by a Muslim mob in the town of Godhra in 2002.

The incident triggered riots in Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.

Judge UC Bannerjee is to be helped by three experts to determine the cause of the fire.

Some 56 people are being held in connection with the attack which took place in Godhra in Gujarat in 2002.

The judge is to submit his report in three months.

The main opposition BJP has accused the government of politicising the issue which took place during its tenure.

Gujarat is also ruled by a BJP administration which was accused of doing little to prevent the riots which followed the Godhra killings.

Doubts

An existing investigation into the attack led by two retired judges has yet to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire on the train.

Godhra train
The riots that followed killed more than 1,000 people
It is still unclear whether any inflammable material was hurled into the train from outside or whether a short circuit triggered off the blaze.

Rail Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav told parliament in July that forensic investigations revealed that inflammable material inside the train had led to the fire.

He said the former BJP government had not made the forensic report public.

The train was carrying passengers returning from the disputed religious site of Ayodhya in northern India, where Hindu zealots tore down a mosque in 1992.

Retrial

In a separate development, a special court in the city of Bombay (Mumbai) has begun hearing a trial in the alleged rape and murder of Muslims during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Indian federal police have charged 20 people in connection with the alleged incident, six of them police officers and two doctors.

A Muslim woman, Bilkis Bano, says local police took no action after she told them she saw three women being raped.

Fourteen Muslims were also alleged to have been killed in the incident.

Last month the Supreme Court transferred the trial out of Gujarat after accusing the state of doing little to bring the guilty to justice.

It is the second riot case to be moved out of Gujarat.


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