ANAND  - An Indian court convicted 23 people on Monday over the massacre of nearly two-dozen Muslims during religious rioting in Gujarat state in 2002 that left more than 2,000 dead.
Another 23 people were acquitted for lack of evidence in the case, in which rioters in the small Gujarati village of Ode bolted the doors of a house where Muslim families had taken refuge and then set it on fire.
Of the 23 who died in what became known as the “Ode massacre”, 18 were women.
The violence in Gujarat was triggered by the killing of nearly 60 Hindu pilgrims travelling in a train that was torched by a mob.
Some 31 Muslims were found guilty last year on murder and conspiracy charges for the train attack that sparked an anti-Muslim backlash.
Hindu mobs hungry for revenge rampaged through Muslim neighbourhoods in several cities across Gujarat during three days of bloodshed that witnessed some of India’s worst religious violence since independence in 1947.
More than 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were hacked, beaten or burned to death.
Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi - a prominent member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party - was blamed for failing to stop the riots, with some critics arguing that he actively encouraged the violence. The Ode massacre was one of several cases probed by a Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team. The charges included murder, conspiracy, rioting, unlawful assembly, attempted murder and destruction of evidence. Sentencing was expected later Monday.