22 defendants in the post-Godhra riots case, which resulted in 17 fatalities, were cleared by a Gujarat court

22 defendants in the post-Godhra riots case, which resulted in 17 fatalities, were cleared by a Gujarat court

22 persons accused of murdering 17 members of a minority group, including two children, were exonerated by a court in Halol town, Gujarat's Panchmahal district, for lack of evidence in a case connected to the state's 2002 post-Godhra communal riots.

The victims were slain on February 28, 2002, and their corpses were burned with the objective of erasing evidence, the prosecution claims.

According to defense attorney Gopalsinh Solanki, the court of Additional Sessions Judge Harsh Trivedi on Tuesday exonerated all 22 defendants, eight of whom passed away while the case was pending.

Due to a lack of evidence, the court cleared everyone implicated in the rioting and murder of 17 members of a minority group, including two children, in the Delol hamlet in the area, Solanki said.

A day after a Sabarmati Express bogie was set on fire by a crowd near Godhra town in Panchmahal district on February 27, 2002, killing 59 passengers, the majority of whom were "karsevaks" returning from Ayodhya, riots had broken out in various areas of the state.

Following the unrest in Delol village, a FIR (first information report) was filed under the Indian Penal Code provisions related to rioting and murder.

Nearly two years after the event, a different police inspector filed a new complaint and detained 22 persons for their suspected participation in the rioting.

According to Solanki, the prosecution was unable to compile sufficient evidence against the defendants, and even witnesses became hostile.

The victim's remains were never discovered, according to the defense attorney.

Police found several bones in a remote area beside a river, but the intensity of the charring prevented authorities from determining who the victims were, he added.

The court cleared all 22 defendants—eight of whom passed away during the course of the trial—due to a lack of evidence, he added.