Ahmedabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A special court has sentenced to death 11 of the 31 Muslims charged with the Godhra train fire in Gujarat, February 27, 2002. The remaining 20 have been given life sentences. On 27 February 2002, the Sabarmati Express was stopped just outside Godhra station and attacked by a Muslim mob.
The train was carrying Hindu activisits returning from a pilgrimage to the temple in Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh. The Babri mosque, built on the holy site claimed by Hindus was destroyed by a Hindu mob in Ayodhya 6 December 1992. The S-6 coach of the train caught fire during the attack. 59 people died in the episode and many were injured.
94 people were indicted for the massacre at Godhra. Of these 63 were cleared (22/02/2011 2002 Gujarat massacre: 31 people convicted for the Sabarmati Express attack). In a controversial ruling the court agreed on a "conspiracy theory", releasing who according to many is the main organizer of the violence, Maulvi Umarji.
The attack triggered a violent reaction in which 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 253 people have been considered missing, and 523 places of worship, including three churches were damaged. 27,901 Hindus and 7,651 Muslims were arrested. The subsequent investigation brought to light the negative role played by the prime minister of the state, Narendra Modi. A report by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) revealed by two newspapers, Tehelka and Headlines Today highlighted his responsibilities. (04/02/ 2011; 2002 massacre in Gujarat: Responsibility of local government). The 600-page report does not completely nail Modi for lack of direct evidence linking him to massacres, but nevertheless has been a serious blow to the image of Modi as a skilled administrator and a man of good governance.