Of the 240 people booked under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), which carries the death penalty, 239 are Muslims while one is a Sikh, the Times of India said on Monday.
The Muslims have been charged with three separate attacks on the majority Hindu community, which includes the alleged killing of 59 Hindu train passengers by a mob, believed to be predominantly Muslim, in Gujarat’s Godhra town on 27 February last year, the report said.
A subsequent report by forensic scientists in Gujarat in July 2002 concluded that the fire on the train was most likely started from the inside casting doubt on the widely promulgated version that the carriage was set alight by a mob on the outside.
The attack sparked bloody communal riots in the state in which more than 2000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules Gujarat and heads India’s federal coalition, has been accused by rights groups of turning a blind eye to the sectarian violence that raged for months.
Court slams government
The Supreme Court on Friday attacked the Gujarat government, saying it had no faith the administration would bring to justice Hindu zealots responsible for the killing of Muslims
The other two incidents for which the accused have been booked under POTA involve an attack on Gujarat’s Hindu Akshardham Temple in which 28 people were killed and the murder of a high-profile former Hindu Gujarat minister, the Times said.
The report comes after the country’s Supreme Court on Friday attacked the Gujarat government, saying it had no faith the administration would bring to justice Hindu zealots responsible for the killing of Muslims.
A three-judge bench led by India’s Chief Justice VN Khare said Chief Minister Narendra Modi should quit if he could not prosecute the guilty.
The court is hearing appeals from India’s National Human Rights Commission and 17-year-old Zaheera Sheikh to reopen the trial of 21 people acquitted of murder for the deaths of 12 people, killed when they torched a bakery in Gujarat during the riots.
Twenty-one Hindu men were acquitted in July by a local court after Sheikh and 72 other witnesses retracted their testimony.
Sheikh later said she lied in court because of death threats.
The Supreme Court told the Gujarat government to extend protection to Sheikh, who fled the state and is still seeking justice for her father and his 11 Muslim workers who were burned to death.