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Fast-track courts to handle Gujarat riot cases

India's Supreme Court Friday ordered the setting up of special fast-track courts to handle a backlog of cases relating to the mass murder of Muslims in Gujarat state in 2002, a report said.

The Gujarat administration has long been accused of dragging its feet in dealing with the pogrom, which saw Hindu extremists kill some 2,000 Muslims.

Gujarat's state government is at the centre of the riots case, with its Hindu nationalist chief minister Narendra Modi fending off allegations that he either instigated or turned a blind eye to the massacres.

The Press Trust of India news agency said the Supreme Court ordered that six special courts be established in Gujarat under the supervision of a special investigation team that was set up by the Supreme Court last year.

The new courts will handle cases that had been put on hold by the Supreme Court itself because of "serious lapses" by the state judiciary and police -- including alleged witness intimidation.

Earlier this week the Supreme Court had also ordered that its investigation team probe the role of Modi in the riots.

Modi, projected as a future prime minister of India and a prominent member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has denied any role in the riots.

At least 2,000 Muslims were hacked, beaten, shot or burnt to death in the attacks, which erupted after 59 Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire first blamed on a Muslim mob, but which an inquiry later concluded was accidental.

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Publication:AFP South Asian Edition
Date:May 1, 2009
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