A ceiling covered in black soot, an old trunk, some broken photo frames, old clothes, and a cracked window pane — as Imtiaz Qureshi, a survivor of the 2002 Gujarat riots, stared at these things at his ancestral house in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Gam locality, past memories came rushing back.

“These items are more than 20 years old. We’ve never had the heart to take them to the house where we live now,” he said, his voice cracking.

On 28 February 2002, communal riots broke out across Gujarat following the burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra. As per official figures by the state government, 1,044 people including 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the violence that followed. Of these, 11 deaths were reported from the Naroda Gam locality.

After the riots, the Naroda Gam case was one of the nine cases in Gujarat in which a speedy day-to-day trial was ordered. Monitored by the Supreme Court, these trials were committed to designated courts.

When the riots broke out in 2002, Qureshi — 30-year-old at the time — lived with his wife and two children in Naroda Gam. He later became a prosecution witness in the case.

On Thursday, 20 April, 13 years after the case was registered and 21 years after the incident, a special court in Ahmedabad, acquitted 69 accused including former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Maya Kodnani and ex-Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi in connection with this case.

Following the court’s order, The Quint spoke to Qureshi about the riots, the trial which on for 13 long years, and the verdict. Here are some excerpts:

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