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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 12:01 GMT
Eleven sentenced for Gujarat riot
Godhra train
More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed
A court in the Indian state of Gujarat has sentenced 11 people to life imprisonment for killing 11 Muslims during religious riots in 2002.

Four women and five children were among the victims who were thrown into two wells by a Hindu mob.

The violence broke out after 60 Hindus were killed when a train was attacked in Godhra, allegedly by a Muslim mob.

Only a handful of cases have been brought to court following the riots. Fewer still have ended in convictions.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the riots which followed the train attack. Independent sources say nearly 2,000 died.


The BBC's Rajeev Khanna in Ahmedabad says the case is one of the most significant resulting from the wave of attacks on minority Muslims in February 2002.

The Gujarat administration, led by the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has been accused of doing little to stop the violence which swept the state or bring the rioters to justice.

Wednesday's sentence was passed by a special fast-track court in Godhra. Some 80 witnesses were questioned during the hearings.

A defence lawyer, Noor Mohammed Sheikh, told the BBC that 21 other suspects had been acquitted in the case.

Police accused

In a related judgement the court also convicted three people for leading the mobs that had attacked Muslim houses in the same village in the Panchmahals district of Gujarat.

They were sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined.

Gujarat police and local authorities have been heavily criticised for failing to come to the help of victims during the violence, which was among the worst in India since partition in 1947.

The Sabarmati Express was carrying Hindu pilgrims returning from the disputed holy site at Ayodhya when it was attacked.

How the blaze in which the pilgrims and their families died started is not clear.

An interim inquiry conducted by the rail ministry concluded that the fire was an accident, although this view is being challenged by the BJP.

A judicial inquiry into the riots has yet to report.

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