Indian Court Sentences 38 To Death Over Fatal 2008 Bombings

A woman pays tribute to victims of the 2008 Ahmedabad attacks

A court in India court has sentenced 38 people to death over a deadly terror attack in the Indian city of Ahmedabad in 2008, in which a string of bomb blasts across the city killed 56.

It is the highest number of death sentences handed out in a single case in India’s history. The sentence must be confirmed by a higher court before it is carried out. An additional 11 people were sentenced to life imprisonment in the case.

Coordinated attacks in Ahmedabad saw bombs set off in hospitals, shopping centres and parks in 2008. Islamist group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were carried out in revenge for the 2002 religious riots in Gujarat which killed over 1,000. Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami is understood to no longer be active.

The series of bombs killed 56 people and injured a further 200.

The sentences handed down by Judge A. R. Patel finally brings closure to a marathon trial that has lasted over a decade, which even by Indian standards (the country has a reputation for drawn-out legal proceedings) is an exceptionally long time. Over 1,100 witnesses were called to give evidence in the duration of the trial.

The trial had concluded in September, and last week the judge handed down guilty verdicts to the 49 convicted. A further 28 people were acquitted due to lack of evidence. All defendants except one had already been in custody for a number of years.

There were celebrations in the streets on the announcement of the sentences, with firecrackers being lit and candy handed out for free. Many years on many still feel strong emotions concerning the attacks, with resulting tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities continuing to the present day.