A Nadiad sessions court on Friday acquitted 118 Hindus and Muslims, accused of rioting and arson in the 2002 Gujarat riots, citing lack of evidence. The judgement that came 14 years after the incident saw the accused leave the court jubilantly and in harmony, after refraining from deposing against each other, prosecution said.
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The case dates back to the aftermath of the 2002 Sabarmati train carnage in Godhra when 118 persons from Nadiad were arrested in four separate incidents of rioting and arson in the areas of Qabrastan chowk, Mill Road, Kanipura and outside Amdavadi darwaza.
According to Public Prosecutor Advocate Paresh Dhora, the accused were arrested from neighbouring areas in a continuing FIR of the incidents of violence between March 1 and March 2, 2002.
On Friday Additional Sessions Judge NT Solanki acquitted the accused due to “lack of evidence” as communities living in the neighborhood refrained from deposing against each other.
Prosecutor Dhora said, “The two communities do not have any bitterness although the riots occurred spontaneously in many areas. The court could not hold the accused guilty as the witnesses belonging to both communities did not make any statements against each other during deposition before the sessions judge. They would even come together during the trial.”
Although no person was reported injured or killed in the incident that occurred, the two communities had come face-to-face, pelting stones at each other and setting vehicles on fire. The accused were arrested in 2005 after police probe and tried also for possessing life threatening weapons like swords, bricks, hockey sticks, pipes, choppers and stones.
During the trial, 11 of the 118 persons died due to natural causes.