NEW DELHI (AP) — An Indian court on Thursday sentenced a former police officer who alleged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s complicity in killings of Muslims in 2002 to life in prison over the death of a person in custody.
Judge D.N. Vyas sentenced Sanjiv Bhatt in a case related to the arrest of 150 people, one of whom died in police detention in western Gujarat state in 1990. The man’s family said he was tortured by Bhatt and other police officers.
Bhatt and his family alleged that he was targeted by the government because of his allegations against Modi when he was the top elected official of Gujarat state in 2002 before he became prime minister in 2014.
Modi has denied any role in the killing of Muslims and courts have found no evidence against him.
Bhatt can appeal the court ruling.
The judge also sentenced six other policemen in the case — one to life in prison and the five others to two years’ imprisonment.
Bhatt had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court alleging Modi’s complicity in deadly attacks by Hindus on Muslims in the state in 2002. He said he attended a meeting at which Modi asked top police officers to let Hindus vent their anger against Muslims following the death of dozens of Hindus in a train coach that was set on fire, allegedly by Muslims, in Godhra, a town in Gujarat state.
More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in violence triggered by the incident.
Bhatt’s accusation against Modi was rejected by investigators appointed by the Supreme Court.
He was suspended from service in 2011 and fired by the Home Ministry in 2015 for “unauthorized absence” from service.