World Bulletin / News Desk
A former Indian state minister was sentenced to 28 years in jail on Friday for murder and conspiracy during one of the country's worst religious riots, when up to 2,500 people, most of them Muslim, were hunted down and hacked, beaten or burnt to death in 2002.
Hundreds of friends and relatives of the 32 people found guilty gathered outside a court in the western city of Ahmedebad to hear the sentences, the final step in a years-long case that cast a spotlight on still simmering communal tension in the world's biggest democracy.
Most relatives of the victims of the riots in Gujarat state stayed away from the court, a sign that 10 years on, memories of the bloodletting by Hindu mobs still cast a pall of fear over the state's Muslim community.
There were unconfirmed reports that some Muslim shopkeepers had shut their establishments and families had fled the city, fearing retaliatory attacks over the sentences.
Maya Kodnani, a sitting lawmaker from the state's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat minister for women and child development between 2007-2009, was the highest-profile conviction to date in connection with the riots.
The state prosecutor had called for all 32 convicted to face the death penalty, even though India rarely carries out the sentence. All 32 were sentenced to jail, for terms ranging from 14 years to life.
Kodnani's conviction is an embarrassment for both the BJP and Gujarat's high-flying chief minister, Narendra Modi, who is lauded by foreign companies for his business-friendly polices and is often touted as the country's next prime minister.
Hardline nationalists threatened to demolish mosque in northern village if Muslim residents didn’t do so by end of June
- Victim's father says approves of son's decision not to file charges as may have to leave village
At least 27 cadets killed and 40 more wounded in attack near capital
No group has claimed responsibility for blasts on highway near Zamboanga City
Parliament that usually gathers in April convened in follow-up to rare Workers' Party of Korea congress held in May
Communist Party of China decides deputy, regarded as key ally of president, to replace Lu Wei
Exiled Communist Party leader says government, rebels, to accelerate negotiations
Of 15 safety inspectors underground during accident, 8 managed to escape but 2 remain missing
Police say insurgents suspected in latest fatal attack to hit troubled region
UN says progress slow on Sri Lanka's post-war reconciliation
Over 3,800 turn themselves in to police in southern Mindanao alone ahead of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s inauguration
North Korea responds aggressively to 'military provocation,' as major parliamentary gathering gets underway in Pyongyang
55 Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers boycotting assembly since police failed attempt to arrest their deputy leader
7 Indonesians among 13 crew travelling on tugboat when attacked by Filipino gunmen last week
PM Abe’s gov’t discusses how to lessen UK referendum’s fallout on Japanese economy as Tokyo prepares for July 10 polls
Junta leader insists won’t follow example of UK’s Cameron by resigning if Thais reject draft charter in Aug. 7 referendum