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Zaheera Sheikh (second from left) with Alyque Padamsee and Javed Akhtar.

Photo: Deepak Salvi

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Gujarat in the dock

The Gujarat riots of 2002 resounded in the courts throughout the year, with the Best Bakery case attracting the most attention.

On March 1, 2002, mobs burnt to death 12 people inside the Best Bakery in Vadodara. On June 27 this year, a fast-track court acquitted all 21 accused for lack of evidence after 37 of the 73 witnesses, including key witness, 19-year-old Zaheera Sheikh, turned hostile.

In Mumbai, Sheikh told the media she had lied in court under duress. She filed a petition before the Supreme Court, as did the National Human Rights Commission.

The Supreme Court slammed the Gujarat government and the prosecution team, telling the state government to quit if it could not prosecute the guilty. A chastised Gujarat government filed an 'amended' appeal, challenging the acquittal.

On December 27, the Gujarat high court dismissed the state government's appeal while confirming the fast track court's acquittal of 21 people.

Text: R Swaminathan

The Gujarat riots

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