AHMEDABAD, India, May 4 (UPI) – A court in the western Indian state of Gujarat Friday convicted nine people for murdering three Muslims, including two women, by burning them to death during sectarian violence by that swept the state in 2002.
The trial court in Anand district, 60km south of Ahmedabad, acquitted 32 others accused in the case, citing a lack of sufficient evidence. Sentencing will be announced later.
On March 1, 2002, Hindu zealots set on fire a three-story house in the village of Ode in Anand district where several Muslim families fleeing the attackers had sheltered. A survivor had testified that a total of 23 men, women and children died in the fire.
The case brought to the court pertained to the killing of three people: two women, Ayesha Vohra and Nuriben Vohra, and a man, Kaderbhai Vohra.
Friday's ruling is the third in cases investigated by a special team set up by India's Supreme Court in 2009 to investigate the anti-Muslim violence of 2002 that is estimated to have killed more than 2,000 people.
The Supreme Court set up the special investigative team after Muslim petitioners complained that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who belongs to the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party, to which many accused in the cases belonged, was sabotaging the prosecution.
Judge R. M. Sarin convicted the nine accused for murder and criminal conspiracy.
The court heard 67 witnesses and studied 98 documentary evidences.
This was the second case of killings of Muslims from the Ode village in which a verdict was given.