February 27, 2002
Godhra, Gujarat, India
A train, primarily carrying Hindu passengers returning from a pilgrimage, is attacked by a mob of between 1,000 to 2,000 people
As the train attempted to leave the station, the train’s emergency brake wire was pulled. As the train came to a stop, a mob of 1,000 to 2,000 began throwing rocks at the train and its passengers before gasoline-soaked rags were lit and thrown into the coaches. The coaches were overcrowded according to reports during the investigation, which prevented many of the victims from escaping. Fifty-nine people, including 10 children, were killed in the blaze and a further 48 injured.
The exact motive behind the attack has not been specified, though it was believed to be due to religious tension in the area between Muslims and Hindus. The fire, specifically the idea that the fire had been caused by religious hatred, sparked a riot lasting 3 days. The 2002 Gujarat riots officially claimed the lives of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus but unofficial tallies place the total dead between 1926 and 2000.
At the end of the 8-year trial, 31 people were convicted and 63 acquitted. Of those convicted, 11 were given death sentences while the other 20 received life sentences. In 2017, those who had been condemned to death had their sentences commuted to life in prison as well.