Gujarat riots: Life term for eight

Ahmedabad, October 30:

A court in western India sentenced eight people to life in prison today for raping and killing two Muslim women and murdering five others amid fierce religious rioting in 2002.

Judge HM Dholakia also sentenced three others to three years in jail for their involvement in the killings.

The crimes took place as Hindu mobs rampaged through Muslim neighbourhoods in Gujarat in February 2002. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslim, were killed in the riots.

The riots were sparked by a fire that killed 60 passengers on a train packed with Hindu pilgrims — deaths that Hindu extremists blamed on Muslims, although the cause of the blaze still remains unclear.

Hundreds of rioters attacked the Muslim residents of Eral village and pursued seven of them as they fled into nearby fields. The men were killed while the women were raped and then killed.

Some 40 people were tried in the case, and 29 were acquitted. Among those sentenced to life in prison was Chandrasinh Parmar, former local chief of the BJP.