Judge acquits all in ’07 blast, then quits
Cites ‘personal reasons’ after letting Aseema, four others off
New Delhi: Hyderabad’s special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court judge K Ravinder Reddy stunned everyone by resigning on Monday, hours after he acquitted all five men, including Swami Aseemanand, in the high-profile Mecca Masjid blast case.
Nine people had been killed and 58 hurt when a pipe bomb ripped through the historic mosque in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007. Five others had been killed later as police opened fire to quell a rioting mob.
Reddy handed over his resignation to the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court. He cited personal reasons for his resignation, and said it had nothing to do with Monday’s judgment. He said had been considering resigning for quite some time, a judicial officer told news agency PTI.
The others who were acquitted in the 11-year-old case because of lack of evidence were former RSS worker from Rajasthan, Devendra, Gupta, two former RSS workers from Madhya Pradesh, Lokesh Sharma and Rajender Chowdhary, besides Aseemanand’s alleged associate Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar.
Aseemanand and Rateshwar are already out on bail, while three others are in jail.
The court held that none of the charges framed against the accused were proved. Police sounded an alert in Hyderabad and stepped up security, as the verdict also triggered a political slugfest.
NIA said all the accused belonged to a group of Hindu extremists led by RSS worker Sunil Joshi who was shot dead on December 29, 2007, in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas town.
Former RSS worker Sandeep Dange, RSS activist Ramachandra Kalsangra and electrician Amit Chouhan are absconding.
Aseemanand was acquitted last year in the 2007 bombing of the Ajmer shrine in Rajasthan. He is being tried on charges of involvement in the bomb attack on Samjhauta Express train in 2007.
NIA said it will examine the judgment and decide further course of action.
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi said justice has not been done and that NIA has been malicious and biased. “Judge who gave acquittal to all accused in Mecca Masjid Blast resigns. Very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship’s decision,” he tweeted.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said in Delhi that after the court’s verdict Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi should apologise for using terms such as saffron terror and Hindu terror.
File photo of Aseemanand