06/19/2007, 00.00
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Court finds 14 Hindus guilty in slaughter of 116 Muslims

More than a thousand Muslims, including women and children, were killed by Hindu extremists in 1989 in Bhagalpur. Almost 20 years later many trials of those involved are still underway. Sentencing for the latest trial is expected in late June.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – A court in India has convicted 14 Hindus of killing 116 Muslims in October 1989 in Bhagalpur (Bihar) during some of the country's bloodiest religious rioting. Sentencing is expected on June 27.

The trial, which lasted for years, involved 24 people charged in the case. Six have since died and four are still on the run.

In 1989 Hindu extremists attacked Muslims after a procession to a Hindu holy site in Ayodhya. More than a thousand people were killed in the violence that lasted for weeks.

Men, women and children were butchered and their bodies dumped into a mass grave on which cauliflowers were planted to escape detection.

The enormity of the carnage became clear several weeks later when the bodies were found and exhumed.

Local Muslims have demanded justice ever since for what is still considered by many the worst incident of anti-Muslim violence in the history of India.

Over the years courts in Bihar have heard 152 cases relating to the killings, acquitting the accused in 119 of them. Many of those convicted in the other 32 cases were given life sentences.

For decades Ayodhya has been the scene of sectarian violence. On December 6, 1992, a Hindu mob attacked and destroyed the Babri Mosque. The rioting that followed around the country claimed an estimated 2,000 lives.

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