The religious carnage in Gujarat two years ago is estimated to have taken at least 2,000 lives. Since then, few of those responsible have come to trial, and fewer still have been convicted. The sense that justice has yet to prevail has made community healing impossible. That sense deepened further last year when all 37 witnesses changed their testimony in a key case known as Best Bakery. Shockingly, the trial was allowed to proceed to its conclusion even when witnesses, one by one, began recanting earlier statements in support of the prosecution - or when one, Zahira Sheikh, was escorted to and from court each day by a lawmaker from the Bharatiya Janata Party. The verdict acquitting all 21 defendants surprised no one but cast a pall over the reconciliation process, not to mention the progress of thousands of other pending cases. That is why the opening of a retrial in nearby Maharashtra this week is to be welcomed. It was ordered by India's Supreme Court after a key witness came forward to claim that intimidation led her to change her testimony. In ordering the retrial, Chief Justice V.N. Khare expressed dismay at the collusion between the prosecution and those standing trial, saying the government's sympathies 'were more for the accused than for the victims'. This time, the trial will be held under tight security, with some witnesses, activists and their families being offered 24-hour protection. Similar protection is at last being offered to witnesses and their families in Gujarat itself. Half the 4,400 cases created in the wake of the riots are no longer being investigated because of lack of witnesses or contradictory evidence. The resolution of these cases, as well as settlement of questions over the role played by key state leaders in the riots, is the only path to normalcy for a state yet to put the violent episode behind it. There is a need to investigate accusations, unanswered even now, that police and leading BJP members encouraged, organised or turned a blind eye to the behaviour of the mobs. Hopes are mixed for a Gujarat-appointed commission's report expected to be submitted soon, after one of the retired judges heading the inquiry said at the start that there was little evidence of serious police wrongdoing. What's more, witnesses were deposed in police stations, leaving them open to intimidation or coaching. Some in India are calling for the new Congress government in Delhi to launch a more credible probe, into the Hindu riots targeting Muslims as well as the Muslim attack on Hindu activists that sparked the reprisals. Years after the fact, little is known about the events, so the idea is worth pursuing, especially if the commission's report turns out to be a whitewash. The Congress party, which wears its commitment to secularism so proudly, should move quickly to close this ugly chapter of independent India's history so that the healing can at last begin.