MECCA MASJID BLAST: Aseemanand, 4 others acquitted
Judge KR Reddy who delivered verdict resigns; Cong says nothing called saffron terror, never used the term
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