India Court Acquits 69 Hindus Accused Of Killing Muslims In Gujarat Riots

India Court Acquits 69 Hindus Accused Of Killing Muslims In Gujarat Riots
An Indian court on Thursday gave a clean chit to 69 Hindus accused of killing 11 Muslims during the 2002 Gujarat violence.

Those acquitted in the case include a former minister belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The killings happened in Ahmedabad in February 2002, a day after a mob set fire to a train carrying Hindu pilgrims.

A total of 86 Hindus were named for the killings in Ahmedabad. Some 17 of them died during trial. All the accused were free on bail.

“We've been saying from the first day that they were framed," defence lawyer said. "Some of the accused were not present at the scene on the day of the incident."

Shamshad Pathan, who represented the victims, announced to challenge the court's decision in a higher court.

“Justice has eluded the victims once again. We will study the grounds on which the court has acquitted the accused persons," he maintained.

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Those acquitted include Maya Kodnani, a BJP minister at the time of the riots, former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaydeep Patel.

Both the organisations are Hindu nationalist groups and have close links to PM Narendra Modi's party.

A chief minister at the time, he was accused of failing to protect Muslims. He had denied the allegations and a Supreme Court-ordered probe could not prosecute him over lack of evidence.

According to a analysis, the challenge posed by Hindutvist thinkers is primarily for Indian intellectuals. For the main target of extremists is usually their own religious cohort. This is because they aim to monopolise the discourse by removing competition that would dilute their voice.

Whichever direction India decides to go will eventually be settled by the clash of ideas between Hindus and Hindutvists. If the former cede ground to the latter, then India will become a Hindu rashtra (state). And if this is what the educated middle-class Indians want then so be it.