MECCA MASJID BLAST: Asee­m­anand, 4 oth­ers ac­quit­ted

Judge KR Reddy who de­liv­ered ver­dict re­signs; Cong says noth­ing called saf­fron ter­ror, never used the term

Financial Chronicle - - FUNDAMENTALS, POLITICS -

ASPE­CIAL an­titer­ror court on Mon­day ac­quit­ted Hin­dutva preacher Swami Asee­m­anand and four oth­ers in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, hold­ing that the pros­e­cu­tion failed to prove “even a sin­gle al­le­ga­tion” against them. How­ever, hours af­ter pro­nounc­ing the judge­ment, in a dra­matic de­vel­op­ment, K Ravin­der Reddy, the spe­cial judge for NIA cases, ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion, cit­ing “per­sonal” rea­sons.

“He has sent the res­ig­na­tion let­ter to MSJ... He has cited per­sonal grounds and it has noth­ing to do with to­day’s ver­dict in the Mecca Masjid blast case. He had ap­par­ently taken the de­ci­sion to re­sign some­times back it­self,” a se­nior ju­di­cial of­fi­cer said, on con­di­tion of anonymity.

“Pros­e­cu­tion (NIA) could not prove even a sin­gle al­le­ga­tion against any of the ac­cused and all of them stand ac­quit­ted,” JP Sharma, the coun­sel for Asse­m­anand, told re­porters quot­ing spe­cial judge Reddy who de­liv­ered the ver­dict amid tight se­cu­rity. Me­dia was barred en­try in the court­room dur­ing the pro­nounce­ment of the judge­ment in the high-pro­file case, dubbed as one of “Hindu ter­ror”, a term that riled the BJP and saf­fron or­gan­i­sa­tions no end.

The NIA spokesper­son in Delhi said that the agency will de­cide its fu­ture course of ac­tion af­ter go­ing through the or­der.

Asee­m­anand was ac­quit­ted last year in the 2007 Ajmer Dar­gah ter­ror at­tack. He is an ac­cused in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts case. Apart from him, those ac­quit­ted are — Deven­dra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharat Mo­han­lal Ratesh­war alias Bharat Bhai and Ra­jen­dra Chowd­hary. Though there were 10 ac­cused in the case, only these five were tried. Two other ac­cused — San­deep V Dange and Ram­chan­dra Kal­san­gra — were ab­scond­ing, while Su­nil Joshi was mur­dered. In­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing against two oth­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Sharma, “This en­tire case was based on con­fes­sional state­ment of Swami Asee­m­anand. Right from the be­gin­ning, we had been plac­ing be­fore the court that this is not a state­ment of con­fes­sion. The de­fence ar­gued that the so-called con­fes­sional state­ment was forced from Swami Asee­m­anand in or­der to cre­ate a the­ory of

Bhagwa Atankwad (saf­fron ter­ror).” The court, Sharma said, held that the con­fes­sional state­ment of Asee­m­anand was not vol­un­tary. “The CBI had got the state­ment of Swami Asee­m­anand recorded in Delhi while he was in po­lice cus­tody dur­ing De­cem­ber 2010,” he said.

Sharma claimed the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer of the CBI had “in­ten­tion­ally” im­pli­cated the ac­cused to sully the im­age of Sant Sa­maj (the fra­ter­nity of seers) and the RSS, to which those ac­quit­ted be­longed at some point of time. Sharma quoted Asse­m­anand as hav­ing said af­ter the ver­dict that he has full faith in the ju­di­ciary.

Buoyed by the ver­dict, the BJP claimed that it had “ex­posed” the Congress’ ap­pease­ment pol­i­tics, while the lat­ter raised ques­tions about the func­tion­ing of the NIA. In Amethi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi dodged ques­tions on the ac­quit­tal. How­ever, party spokesper­son PL Pu­nia said, “Rahul Gandhi or the Congress has never used the words saf­fron ter­ror. It is rub­bish. There is noth­ing called saf­fron ter­ror. It is our clear be­lief that ter­ror can­not be linked to any re­li­gion or any com­mu­nity or caste. It is a crim­i­nal men­tal­ity which leads to crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity and it can­not be linked to any re­li­gion or com­mu­nity.”

For­mer Union home min­is­ter Shivraj Patil said, “I find it dif­fi­cult to say whether this is wrong or cor­rect. I was not aware of the na­ture of charge sheet filed, state­ments made by the wit­nesses and the cross-ex­am­i­na­tion done by the pros­e­cu­tion.”

“Judge who gave ac­quit­tal to all ac­cused RE­SIGNS. I’m sur­prised with the Lord­ship de­ci­sion” AIMIM chief

For its ap­pease­ment pol­i­tics, the Congress tar­geted and de­famed Hin­dus and the coun­try for merely some votes. That con­spir­acy has been ex­posed. Rahul Gandhi and So­nia Gandhi should apol­o­gise for us­ing terms like “saf­fron ter­ror”. BJP SPOKESPER­SON SAM­BIT PA­TRA It (ac­quit­tal) is hap­pen­ing in each case since the gov­ern­ment was formed four years ago. Peo­ple are los­ing faith in the agen­cies. CONGRESS LEADER GHU­LAM NABI AZAD Ma­jor­ity of wit­ness turned hos­tile af­ter June 2014, NIA didn’t pur­sue the case as ex­pected from it/was not al­lowed by Po­lit­i­cal Mas­ters. Qs is what will be left of crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem if such bi­ased prose­cu­tions con­tinue (sic). Jus­tice hasn’t been done. AIMIM PRES­I­DENT ASADUD­DIN OWAISI The NIA court has ac­quit­ted all the ac­cused for lack of cred­i­ble ev­i­dence. But who are the peo­ple who did it? Who are the forces be­hind the blast? That should be found out. NIA com­pletely failed to es­tab­lish the truth. CPI LEADER D RAJA

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