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A special trial court in Mehsana Wednesday convicted and sentenced to life 31 of the 73 people accused in the Sardarpura riot case in Gujarat in which 33 people were burnt alive on March 1, 2002, during the communal riots.

The court, which conducted the trial in last two years, acquitted 42 of accused.

The accused were charged for murder, attempt to murder, looting, rioting and other charges.

Of the 42 acquitted, 11 were freed due to lack of evidence. The remaining 31 were given the benefit of doubt and asked to submit a bond of Rs.25,000 each and ordered not to leave the country without permission.

The trial was monitored by the Supreme Court, which sought reports of the progress of these cases regularly. It was probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

According to the complainant Sheikh Ibrahim Rghubhai a mob of 1,000 people had attacked a Muslim locality in Sardarpura, a small village near Mehsanad. The people had gathered in a tiny room owned by Sheikh Mehmudmiya Hussainmiya which was set on fire. Twenty-eight bodies were recovered from the room while five died during treatment.

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