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The 2002 Indian Gujarat Massacre

On February 27, 2002, a fire ripped through a train at Godhra station in Gujarat in western India, burning 59 Hindu pilgrims alive.

Blaming Muslims for the deaths of the pilgrims, mobs of Hindus rampage, rape, loot and kill in a spasm of violence that rages for more than two months.

Mothers are skewered, children set afire and fathers hacked to pieces.

About 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, are killed. Some 20,000 Muslim homes and businesses and 360 places of worship are destroyed, and roughly 150,000 people are displaced.

The day after the train attack, for example, police officers in Ahmedabad do not arrest a single person among the tens of thousands of angry Hindus.

The cause of the train fire remains a chief area of dispute.

An angry Muslim crowd had gathered at Godhra station to protest against the taunting of Muslim porters by Hindu passengers, but they deny setting the train ablaze.

In 2005, an Indian government investigation finds that the fire was an accident and not caused by Muslims. The report is one of a number of politically competing inquiries.

During the slaughter in Ahmedabad and hundreds of other towns and villages, Hindu mobs rounded up and raped Muslim women. They poured kerosene down their throats and those of their children and threw lit matches at them.

Many eyewitness reports suggested police directed rioters to Muslim homes and also turned fleeing victims back towards their killers.

In 2007, the investigative magazine Tehelka recorded boasts from some of the ringleaders. One, Babu Bajrangi, boasted of how he slit open the womb of a pregnant woman.

It was one of the two biggest massacres during the riots — the other was in Naroda Patiya suburb, where more than 90 died.

Hindu nationalist Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat, was widely accused of turning a blind eye to the violence.

One senior policeman even testified Modi ordered officers not to intervene as the killing spread.

India’s premier has always denied wrongdoing and has never been convicted over the violence.

However, the bloody riots tarred Modi’s international image, leading him to be blacklisted for a decade by the United States and the European Union.

Official probes also absolved the state police and government of any collusion in the violence, which left 200,000 people homeless. Many Muslims never returned.

A top state official tells one investigation panel that Mr. Modi ordered officials to take no action against rioters. That official was murdered. Thousands of cases against rioters are dismissed by the police for lack of evidence despite eyewitness accounts

.

More than 100 people have been convicted over the riots in a series of trials over the past 14 years.

An Indian court in 2011 found 31 Hindus guilty of murdering 33 Muslims who were seeking shelter in a single house.

And in 2012 a former minister in Modi’s state government was handed a life sentence for her role.

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