Indian court sentences 38 to death for fatal 2008 bombings

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 in Gujarat state, which has a history of violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims.
It was the first time that so many accused have received death sentences in a single case in India. The sentences must be confirmed by a higher court.
The attacks in Ahmedabad 13 years ago underscored communal tensions that are still reverberating in India.
A terrorist group called Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami claimed responsibility for the bombings. It was considered to be Pakistani-based but apparently is no longer active.
The Indian Mujahideen, a radicalized faction of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, also was involved, said Sudhir Brahmbhatt, a government prosecutor in the case, citing police documents.
The group planned the explosions as revenge for the 2002 Hindu-Muslim violence in Gujarat in which more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed, the Press Trust of India news agency said. It was some of the worst religious violence India has seen since its independence from Britain in 1947.
All the 49 convicts are Muslims, Brahmbhatt said, adding that only one Hindu was arrested and acquitted by the court.
India’s overburdened courts are notorious for delays in trials with nearly 40 million cases pending across the country.

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