10/29/2010, 00.00
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After seven years, courts can rule on Godhra massacre

by Santosh Digal
The Supreme Court clears the way for Gujarat courts to rule on the 2002 train fire, which set of bloody communal violence that left more than 2,000 people dead.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – After seven years of waiting, the Supreme Court last Tuesday gave the green light to courts in the Indian state of Gujarat to rule on the 2002 Godhra train massacre and the communal violence that ensued.  Various commissions of inquiry instituted by the court looked into the tragic events in the intervening years, but they never brought any formal charges or started any trial.

Now, Teesta Setalvad, a human rights activist with Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), told AsiaNews, “The deliverance of justice after all aspects of investigations have been completed will be a welcome acknowledgement”. It will also bring “closure for the victims of violence and those of us who have been supporting the struggle for justice.”

On 27 February 2002, a fire on the Sabarmati Express killed 59 passengers, mostly members of the Hindu fundamentalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) who were returning from a rally in favour of the construction of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya.

Soon after, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Moodi blamed the attack on Muslim terrorists, a claim that set off a full-scale anti-Muslim pogrom that lasted, on and off for two months. In the end, more than 2,000 people were dead, and about 150,000 were left homeless.

Created in April 2002 in response to the carnage, the CJP launched a campaign for harmony, peace and justice among people of different religious communities. It sought to fight bigotry and intolerance in all its forms, and achieve reconciliation among all the peoples of India, whatever their place in society.  Its founding members included writers, social and human rights activists, journalists, architects, actors and playwrights from different religious backgrounds.

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