A sessions court in Gujarat has acquitted all 35 accused persons in four cases pertaining to 2002 riots in which three persons were killed, reported Live Law on Saturday.

In its June 12 order, which was made public on June 15, additional sessions judge Harsh Trivedi said that the police “implicated prominent Hindu persons” including doctors, professors, teachers, businessmen, panchayat officials and due to the uproar of “pseudo-secular media and politicians”, reported The Indian Express.

On February 27, 2002, coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express was set on fire at the Godhra station, leading to the deaths of 59 persons. The coach was carrying kar sevaks who were returning from Ayodhya. The incident triggered widespread communal riots in Gujarat, resulting in the deaths of 1,044 persons, according to official figures.

The accused persons in the present case were were booked for killing Ruhul Padva, Harun Abdul Sattar Tasiya and Yusuf Ibrahim Sheikh at Derol railway station on February 28, 2002, a day after the Sabarmati Express was set on fire.

In total, 52 persons were booked but 17 of them died during the pendency of trial.

In its 36-page order, the court said the surviving accused persons were acquitted for “lack of evidence” as witnesses turned hostile during the course of trial.

Citing prominent Gujarati author and Congress leader, Kanhaiyalal Munshi, the court said: “[Munshi] once said that if every time there is an inter-community conflict, the majority is blamed regardless of the merits of the question, the springs of traditional tolerance will dry up. In the case on hand, the police unnecessarily implicated the accused in the alleged commission of crime.”

The court also said that due to “continued and repeated written allegations by persons from the Muslim community”, the trial was prolonged so much that “first and the last IO died before they can be called as witnesses”.