JAIPUR - An Indian court on Wednesday jailed two Hindu extremists for life over a deadly bombing at a Sufi shrine that has a huge following amongst both Muslims and Hindus.

Police had initially blamed ‘Pakistan-based’ extremists for the 2007 attack on the revered 12th-century Sufi shrine at Ajmer in the western state of Rajasthan, which killed three people and injured 15.

But earlier this month a special court in Rajasthan found Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel guilty, the first time in living memory that Hindu radicals have been convicted for such a crime.

A third man who was shot dead in the months after the attack and tried posthumously was also convicted.

All three were convicted on charges related to explosives and conspiracy to commit unlawful acts over the blast, which came just before the Muslim festival of Eid.

Magistrate Dinesh Kumar Gupta pronounced sentence on Wednesday.

Special public prosecutor Ashwini Sharma said their motive was to create communal disharmony. “Their motive was to hurt religious sentiments of Muslims during the month of Ramzan (Ramadan) by the bomb blast,” Sharma said.

Gupta and Patel’s lawyer JS Rana told journalists they would appeal the verdict in a higher court.

Butcher shops razed amid crackdown on beef

Indian police said Wednesday they were not ruling out arson after fire gutted three butcher shops in Uttar Pradesh state, where a firebrand Hindu leader has taken office promising a crackdown on slaughterhouses.

The meat industry is a magnet for religious violence in India, where Hindus consider cows sacred and accusations of beef being sold by Muslims can trigger violent mob reprisals.

Police were investigating the “mysterious” overnight blaze that reduced the three butcher shops to ashes in Hathras district, local police chief Dilip Kumar told AFP.

“We are not ruling out anything,” he said.

The fire comes just days after a hardline Hindu priest-turned-politician took control of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state with a bloody history of violence between Hindus and Muslims.

Yogi Adityanath is known for his polarising and inflammatory speeches against Muslims, and has railed for harsher penalties for the slaughter of cows, which is already illegal in most Indian states.

He was chosen to lead Uttar Pradesh after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party swept state polls earlier this month, in part on a pledge to clampdown on slaughterhouses.

Since the thumping election victory, dozens of butcher shops deemed illegal by the government have been sealed off across the state in what authorities say is a crackdown on unlicensed traders.

Most butcher shops are run by Muslims and cow slaughter is a flashpoint issue. A 50-year-old Muslim man was dragged from his home in 2015 and beaten to death by roughly 100 people over rumours he ate beef. Police later said it was mutton.

India has witnessed a rise in vigilantism by Hindu extremists since Modi - whose right-wing party is strongly aligned to Hindu nationalist groups - was voted to power in 2014.