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Gujarat: Court Acquits 26 Accused In 2002 Riots Gang Rape, Murder Case

A court in Gujarat has acquitted all 26 persons accused of gangrape and murder of more than a dozen members of a minority community in separate incidents during communal riots in 2002, citing lack of evidence in the 20-year-old case, causing outrage and criticism from human rights activists.

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A court in Gujarat has acquitted all 26 persons accused of gangrape and murder of more than a dozen members of a minority community in separate incidents in Kalol during communal riots in 2002, for want of evidence in the 20-year-old case. Of the total 39 accused, 13 died during the case pendency and the trial against them was abated. The court of Additional Sessions Judge Leelabhai Chudasama at Halol in Panchmahal district on Friday acquitted 26 persons for the offences of murder, gangrape and rioting for want of evidence.

"As many as 13 out of a total 39 accused in the case had died during the pendency of the trial," the court said in the order. The accused persons were part of a mob that went on a rampage in the communal riots that broke out on March 1, 2002 during a bandh call given after the Sabarmati train burning incident in Godhra on February 27.  An FIR was lodged against the accused at Kalol police station on March 2, 2002. The prosecution examined 190 witnesses and 334 documentary evidence in support of its argument, but the court said there were contradictions in the accounts of witnesses, and they did not support the prosecution's argument.

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On March 1, 2002, a mob of more than 2,000 people from two different communities clashed with sharp weapons and inflammable objects in Kalol city in Gandhinagar district. They damaged shops and set them on fire. A man who was injured in police firing and being rushed to the hospital was burnt alive along with a tempo. The mob attacked and killed another man coming out of a mosque and burnt his body inside the mosque. In another incident, 38 people fleeing Delol village and coming towards Kalol were attacked and 11 of them were burnt alive. A woman was gang raped when she and others were trying to escape, as per the FIR.

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