NEW DELHI (AA) – A local court in the western Indian state of Gujarat acquitted 22 people accused of killing 17 Muslims during the 2002 communal riots due to lack of evidence, a defense lawyer said on Wednesday.
The additional district court in Halol, Gujarat state, acquitted 22 people, eight of whom have died, on Tuesday.
“All of them are acquitted,” defense lawyer Gopal Solanki told Anadolu. “Because the prosecution failed to find any evidence against them.”
On Feb. 28, 2002, 17 people were killed, including two children, and their bodies were burnt with the intention to conceal the evidence.
The Gujarat riots were triggered by an incident of train burning in Godhra on Feb. 27, 2002, in which Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were killed. Muslims were blamed for the fire, but later it turned out to be accidental in an inquiry.
The court’s ruling comes at a time when the Indian government has barred all social media content linked to the first episode of the BBC series – India: The Modi Question – after proclaiming an emergency under the new Information Technology Act last week.
The documentary pertains to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership as chief minister of western Gujarat state during the 2002 riots that killed over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.