Indian Court Sentences 38 People to Death for Fatal 2008 Bombings

NEW DELHI — A court in India on Friday sentenced to death 38 people for a series of bomb blasts in 2008 that left more than 50 dead and 200 wounded in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state, which has a history of violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

This was the first case where so many defendants were sentenced to death in one Indian case. A higher court must confirm the sentence.

In the case where more than a dozen bombs were set off in various parts of Ahmedabad, Judge A. R. Patel sentenced eleven people to life imprisonment.
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A militant Islamic group called Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami claimed responsibility for the bombings. Although it was believed to have been based in Pakistan, the group appears no longer to be active.

Two waves of explosions were carried out using explosives hidden inside lunchboxes or bicycles. Two explosions occurred in Ahmedabad, one near busy and crowded shopping malls. Twenty minutes later the second blast was in or around hospital areas where victims were being treated.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister — the top elected official — of Gujarat state at the time.

There have been tensions in the state’s history between Hindus, Muslims of minority and mainstream Hindus. In 2002, it was the scene of violence that claimed more than 1000 lives. A train full of Hindu pilgrims set fire to it, killing 60 people.

While the exact cause has not been established, Hindu extremists blamed Muslims. They then reacted to their actions by waging war in Muslim areas.

Patel was last week found guilty of murder and conspiracy to wage war on the state. For lack of evidence, he acquitted 28 other defendants on charges that stemmed from the July 26th bombings which killed 56 persons.

In September, the trial concluded.


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