The Gujarat High Court [official website] in Ahmedabad, India, convicted 24 individuals on Thursday of murder and other charges related to the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state of Gujarat in which hundreds of Muslims were killed. The riots, which occurred during the reign of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi [official website] as the Chief Minister of the state, resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 individuals, most of whom were Muslims, making this India’s worst outbreak of religious violence since the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. The Gujarat riots came a day after 60 Hindu pilgrims were killed in a train blaze. A court convicted 31 people years later of arson in connection with that incident. According to S.M. Vohra, a lawyer representing more than three dozen riot victims, 11 of the 24 were convicted of murder while the rest were convicted of lesser charges, which will not be made public until sentencing on Monday. The court acquitted [Reuters report] 36 other defendants who had been on trial since 2009 while four of the accused died during the trial.
Accusations against Modi that he did not do enough to stop the rioting continue to haunt him to this day, although the prime minister has so far denied any wrongdoing. As recently as September 2014, Modi was sued [JURIST report] by the American Justice Center, on behalf of unnamed survivors of violence in India, who claimed [complaint, PDF] that he failed to stop the riots. A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] dismissed the lawsuit [JURIST report] last year, agreeing with the US State Department [official website] that Modi is entitled to immunity from lawsuits in US courts. Modi was elected [Guardian report] prime minister in May 2014 with a landslide victory. The election of the Hindu nationalist and 282 members of his conservative Bharatiya Janata Party [official website] was called historic, as no party has won by such a margin since 1984.