An auto rickshaw burns during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Image credit: Indian Express

LONDON – The acquittal of six people in a case related to the killing of three British nationals of Indian origin during the 2002 Gujarat riots was today described as a “failure of justice” by the victims’ family, reports PTI.

Citing lack of evidence, a special trial court in India on Friday acquitted all the six accused of killing three British nationals near Prantij town in Sabarkantha district of west Indian state of Gujarat in 2002.

“The tragedy, something that the family has to live with on daily basis, is that the mob responsible for killing their loved ones are still loose on the streets. The family will not rest until the Indian government fulfils its legal duty and responsibility of bringing the real culprits to justice,” said Suresh Grover, spokesperson for the Dawood Family Justice Campaign set up here in the wake of the tragedy.

On February 28, 2002, as riots engulfed Gujarat a day after the Godhra train-burning incident, Imran Dawood and his UK-based uncles Saeed Dawood, Shakeel Dawood and Mohammad Aswat were attacked by a mob on the highway near Prantij.

Saeed, Shakeel, Mohammad Aswat and their car driver Yusuf Piraghar, a local were burnt alive while Imran managed to save himself with the help of police.

The deaths of the British nationals had prompted the UK government to take a policy decision not to have active engagement with Gujarat government. Britain resumed the engagement only in October 2012.

The forum also hit out at India for failing to “hold rule of law” and taking long duration to deliver legal verdicts.

“How can a country continue to claim that it promotes rule of law when it can take 13 years to deliver a verdict in a case that should have been completed within 12 months, and, as importantly, fail to deliver justice for victims?” a statement said.

It also criticised Gujarat’s police authority for their inability to “identify, interview and support crucial witnesses” in the wake of the incident.

“Unfortunately and sadly the verdict does not come as a surprise. It is an established fact that the Gujarat police failed to investigate the murders properly and thoroughly.

“This negligence was especially noticeable in two key aspects of the investigation: the police’s unwillingness to identify, interview and support crucial witnesses and their apparent inability to collect forensic evidence,” read the statement.