Indian Supreme Court released on bail 17 convicted Hindu extremists over Muslim massacre
NEW DELHI (AA): India’s top court on Tuesday released on bail at least 17 convicts jailed for life for taking part in an anti-Muslim pogrom, local media reported.
The Supreme Court of India issued bail orders for the convicts who were found guilty for the 2002 Sardarpura massacre in which 33 Muslims were burned alive in the western province of Gujarat.
According to Press Trust of India news agency, the country’s apex court ruled to send the convicts in two groups to the neighboring central Madhya Pradesh province for “community service.”
At least 33 Muslims, including 22 women, were burned alive in Sardarpura on the night of Feb. 28, 2002, following the infamous Godhra train riots a day earlier. Some 59 people who were returning from Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh were killed in the incident.
The bail order was passed by Chief Justice S A Bobde along with justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant.
All the released convicts were ordered to undertake community service for six hours a week, aside from reporting to the local police station on a weekly basis.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had ordered a Special Investigation Team to probe the Sardarpura massacre, which then arrested 76 people.
However, a special fast track court convicted only 31 people in 2012, 10 years after the massacre. Four years later, Gujarat High Court acquitted 14 of these 31.
The court had ruled that the prosecution did not comply with the “two-witness” principle prescribed by the Supreme Court.
The convicts have, however, appealed against the order of Gujarat High Court convicting them.