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A court in Halol town of Panchmahal district of Gujarat on Tuesday acquitted 22 people for lack of evidence. He was accused of killing 17 members of a minority community, including two children, in a case related to the 2002 post-Godhra communal riots in the state. Defense counsel Gopalsinh Solanki said the court of Additional Sessions Judge Harsh Trivedi acquitted all the 22 accused, eight of whom died during the trial of the case.
Solanki said that the court acquitted all the accused in the case of rioting and killing of 17 people of minority community, including two children, in Delol village of the district due to lack of evidence. According to the prosecution, the victims were killed on February 28, 2002, and their bodies were burnt with the intention of destroying evidence.
Communal riots broke out in different parts of the state on February 27, 2002, a day after a mob torched a bogie of the Sabarmati Express near Godhra town in Panchmahal district. Fifty-nine passengers, most of whom were ‘kar sevaks’ returning from Ayodhya, had died in the bogie burning incident.
An FIR was registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections related to murder and rioting following the violence in Delol village. Another police inspector registered a fresh case almost two years after the incident and arrested 22 people for their alleged involvement in the riots.
Solanki said the prosecution was unable to collect sufficient evidence against the accused persons and even the witnesses turned hostile. Defense counsel said the bodies of the victims were never found. Police recovered bones from a deserted spot by a river, but they were charred to such an extent that the identities of the victims could not be established. He said that due to lack of evidence, the court acquitted all the 22 accused, eight of whom died during the trial.