Shiv Sena politician convicted over 1992 Mumbai riots

MUMBAI Wed Jul 9, 2008 8:47pm IST

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - Three members of the Shiv Sena were sentenced to a year in jail on Wednesday for inciting violence during deadly riots between Hindus and Muslims in the city in 1992.

Among them was Madhukar Sarpotdar, a senior leader of and former MLA for the Mumbai-based Shiv Sena party, and the most prominent person convicted so far in connection with the riots.

"This is an important case because Mr Sarpotdar was the MLA for Shiv Sena at the time," said Ramnath Kini, Mumbai's chief public prosecutor.

Shiv Sena, which currently runs the city's municipal authority, believes India is a fundamentally Hindu nation, despite its secular constitution.

Months of sporadic rioting broke out in Mumbai, then known as Bombay, and across India in December 1992 after Hindu zealots demolished a 16th-century mosque at Ayodhya.

In Mumbai alone, more than 900 people were killed, most of them Muslims. In retaliation, Muslim gangsters detonated 13 bombs across the city in 1993 and killed another 257 people.

The prosecution said that Sarpotdar whipped up a crowd of more than 150 people into a violent, anti-Muslim frenzy on December 27, 1992.

Sarpotdar maintained his innocence on Wednesday.

"I was not involved in any of the violence at the time," he told the Times Now news channel after his conviction.

Shiv Sena plans to appeal against the convictions, said Anil Parab, a Shiv Sena MLA in the state government.

Nearly 100 people, mostly Muslims, have been convicted in connection with the Mumbai bombings. Including Wednesday's convictions, only seven people have been convicted in connection with the earlier riots.

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