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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Twenty charged over Gujarat riots
Gujarat religious riots
The riots in 2002 left at least 1,000 dead - mostly Muslims
India's Central Bureau of Investigation has charged 20 people over the alleged gang rape and murder of Muslims in an incident during 2002's Gujarat riots.

Fourteen Muslims were alleged to have been killed and three women raped.

Those charged include six policemen and two doctors accused of conspiracy and destroying evidence.

The Gujarat riots began after 59 Hindus were killed in an arson attack on a train in February 2002 that was blamed on a Muslim mob.

Assumed dead

India's Supreme Court asked the CBI to take over the investigation after the National Human Rights Commission voiced support for a key witness, Bilkis Bano.

Ms Bano, who was pregnant at the time, is reported to have seen the three women being raped.

She managed to avoid attack because the men assumed her to be dead.

She says she named the accused to Gujarat police but they allegedly took no action and closed the case.

More than 1,000 people died, mostly Muslims, during the Gujarat riots, India's worst religious violence for a decade.

The Gujarat authorities have been criticised for their poor handling of riot cases.

The Supreme Court this month ordered a retrial of one case in which 12 Muslims were burned to death by a Hindu mob.

Twenty-one Hindus were acquitted last June of killing the Muslims when many witnesses withdrew their evidence.

The Supreme Court said the first court was "indifferent to the sacrilege being committed to justice".


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