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Indian Muslims sentenced to death for train attack

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Indian Muslims sentenced to death for train attack


Eleven Indian Muslims have been sentenced to death for an arson attack on a train in 2002 that killed 59 Hindus.

The fire sparked days of violence between Muslims and Hindus in which more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, lost their lives.

Of the 31 men convicted of the attack last week, those who did not receive the death penalty were given life prison sentences on Tuesday. They were found guilty of setting fire to a train in the town of Godhra in Gujarat province. Inside the Sabarmati Express were Hindu pilgrims on their way back from Ayodhya, a holy site which is itself fought over by the Hindu and Muslim communities.

There has already been much controversy over what exactly started the fire.

A former Supreme Court judge issued a report in 2005 that concluded the fire was an accident and had started inside one of the train’s carriages. But three years later, another investigation commissioned by the state government reported that the attack was a conspiracy.

The devastating riots that followed the fire also led to much political finger-pointing. Gujarat’s state government, which is led by a Hindu nationalist party, was accused of turning a blind eye to, and even being complicit in Hindu attacks on Muslim neighbourhoods. While a state commissioned report exonerated local police and officials, a Supreme Court panel concluded last year that the state Chief Minister showed a “discriminatory attitude.”

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