ASEEMANAND, ALL OTHERS ACQUITTED IN 2007 MECCA MASJID BLAST CASE

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Swami Aseemanand, one of the 10 accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case. — File photo

The powerful explosion at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad killed nine and left 58 others injured. Ten persons allegedly belonging to right-wing organisations were named as accused in the case.

HYDERABAD (IANS) — A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court here on Monday acquitted all five accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case.

Eleven years after the powerful explosion killed nine people and injured more than 58 during the Friday prayers near the iconic Charminar here, the court held that none of the charges framed against the accused were proved.

A lawyer of one of the accused told reporters outside the Nampally criminal court complex here that the court held that the prosecution failed to prove the charges.

Hindu right-wing members Aseemanand, Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharatbhai and Rajender Chowdhary, who were charged by the NIA, were all acquitted.

The explosion ripped through the mosque on May 18, 2007. Two live IEDs were also recovered by police and defused. Later, five more people were killed in subsequent police firing on the crowd outside the mosque.

After an initial investigation by the local police, the case was transferred to CBI, which filed a chargesheet. The NIA took over the probe in April 2011. A total of 226 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents exhibited. During the examination, 64 of them, including Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, turned hostile.

Inputs from Caravan Desk:

Soon after the blasts, hundreds of Muslims who were offering prayers in the Mecca Masjid came out on the street to protest against the attack. But rather than controlling them, the local police had opened fire killing five of the protesters.

As has been usual for the past two decades, scores of Muslims were hounded for the blasts. Around 90 Muslims (official figure, but unofficial figure is around 200) were detained and many were tortured. At least 21 of them were charge-sheeted. But in 2009, all of them were acquitted of the terror charges by a local court. Some of them were given compensation by the state government for wrongful confinement.

The blast case was later handed over to the CBI and it was taken over by the NIA in 2011. Several people including Aseemanand belonging to Hindu-right groups were arrested. During his stay in a local jail, he was moved by the good behavior of a young prison mate. When he came to know that the young man was in the jail for the Mecca Masjid blast, his heart was changed. Later before a magistrate, he confessed his involvement in the blasts and he was charge-sheeted by the NIA. But since BJP came to power in the centre in May 2014, the case was weakened which has now resulted in his acquittal.

 

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