Hindu mob murder trial starts in India

The retrial of 21 Hindus acquitted of killing 12 Muslims in an arson attack on a bakery during religious riots has started in Bombay.

    About 2000 people died in the 2002 Gujurat riots

    India's supreme court ordered a retrial in April after key

    witness Zahira Shaikh said she had been forced to retract her

    testimony during the original trial, held in Gujarat, due to threats

    by Hindu hardliners.

    The court ordered the retrial to be held in neighbouring

    Maharashtra state, of which Bombay is the capital.

    Press reports on Monday said the main witnesses were being housed

    at a secret location to prevent intimidation.

    Proceedings began with cross-examination of government officials

    as to the location of various buildings, including the Best

    Bakery in the Gujarati town of Baroda which was set ablaze by a Hindu mob

    during the rioting.

    No convictions

    The 70-year-old father of Shaikh was among the 12 who died in

    the attack.

    Human rights groups say at least 2000 people, mostly Muslims,

    were killed in revenge violence after an allegedly Muslim mob

    torched a train, burning to death 59 Hindus.

    BJP politician Narendra Modi is
    accused of abetting the riots

    A subsequent inquiry found that evidence of who set the train ablaze was inconclusive.

    So far, nobody has been convicted for the killings that took place

    during the riots that shook the state, known for its recent history of

    religious tensions.

    Human rights groups have accused the Gujarat state government,

    led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), of turning a

    blind eye to the 2002 riots and even abetting the attacks on Muslims.

    In February, the supreme court ordered federal protection for

    witnesses of the killings of Muslims in Gujarat after many said they

    feared for their lives.



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