All five people accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case have been acquitted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court in Hyderabad. The court acquitted all accused due to lack of direct evidence. The fourth additional metropolitan sessions-cum-special court for NIA cases had concluded the trial, and last week posted the case for judgment on 16 April.
Meanwhile, NIA has said that it will examine the court judgment after it gets a copy of the same and decide further course of action.
Former MHA Under Secretary (Internal Security) RVS Mani said that NIA earlier ran the narrative of the government. The initial evidence in the case had come against one Bilal and a Bangladeshi national but it was not pursued. "I had expected it. All the pieces of evidence were engineered, otherwise, there was no Hindu terror angle", ANI quoted Mani as saying.
"People who perpetrated attack were protected through misuse of the agency, this is what is alarming. How do you compensate those who suffered and were maligned? Will Congress or anyone else who propagated this theory compensate them?" ANI tweeted his remarks.
However, according to India Today, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) President Asaduddin Owaisi has hit-out against the verdict saying that the case was not pursued as expected as the witnesses turned hostile after 2104 and thus justice has not been done.
As per ANI, Congress's Ashok Gahlot has said "It is now up to the Govt to examine order and decide if a further appeal is required. As it is a judicial matter I would not like to comment on it."
Nine persons were killed and 58 were injured in the blast during Friday prayers at the historic mosque in Hyderabad on 18 May, 2007. Five persons were killed in subsequent police firing near the mosque as protests broke out after the blast. The case, that has been linked with the 2007 Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast, 2008 Malegaon blasts, and the Samjhauta Express attack, has seen many twists and turns in the course of investigation in the last 10 years — from witnesses turning hostile to the lack of evidence.
After an initial investigation by the local police, the case was transferred to the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI), which filed a chargesheet. Subsequently, the NIA took over the case from the CBI in 2011. The fourth additional metropolitan sessions-cum-special court for NIA cases had concluded the trial and last week posted the case for judgment on 16 April.
A total of 226 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents were exhibited. Eventually, 10 persons allegedly belonging to right-wing organisations were named as accused in the case. During examination 64 of them, including Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, turned hostile on 14 February 2018. Purohit claimed that his statement was never recorded, either by the CBI or NIA.
However, only five of them — Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary — were arrested and faced trial in the case.
Ten persons allegedly belonging to right-wing organisations were named as accused in the case. However, only five of them — Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary — were arrested and faced trial in the case. Two other accused — Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra — are absconding, while another accused Sunil Joshi died. Investigations were on against two other accused.
Swami Aseemanand and Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar are out on bail, while three others are lodged in the central prison in Hyderabad under judicial remand. In March 2017, a court in Rajasthan had sentenced Gupta and another convict to life in jail in the Ajmer Dargah blast case.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Apr 16, 2018 13:22 PM