AFTER ACQUITTING ALL, JUDGE QUITS
RIGHT-WING ACTIVIST SWAMI ASEEMANAND AND FOUR OTHERS SET FREE IN 2007 MECCA MASJID BLAST CASE
Within seven hours of acquitting right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, the judge of the special anti-terror court in Hyderabad submitted his resignation.
Judge K Ravinder Reddy has cited personal reasons for his resignation. But the fact that the resignation letter is four pages long has raised eyebrows. So, has the timing of the decision. He has also proceeded on leave. Incidentally, Ravindra Reddy was the president of the Telangana junior judges' association and due to retire in two months.
MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi was the first to respond to the resignation. He tweeted to say that he was surprised by the decision. "The judge who acquitted all the accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case RESIGNING is very intriguing and I am surprised at Lordship’s decision," he said.
The bottom fell out of the 11-year-old case within minutes when the judge ruled that the country's top anti-terror body, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), had failed to prove anyone's guilt.
Aseemanand, who hails from Gujarat, and four others were accused of engineering a massive blast that had ripped through the masjid on May 8, 2007, during Friday prayers, killing nine people.
The CBI in 2010 had charged that Hindu right wing group Abhinav Bharat was behind the blast. According to the chargesheet, the accused were "angered by terrorist attacks on Hindus and their temples" and wanted to "avenge" them by attacking Muslim places of worship. Aseemanand, too, was arrested by the CBI in 2010. The charge-sheet said he had made a confessional statement before a magistrate and disclosed the conspiracy behind the bomb blasts in different places, including Mecca Masjid. Aseemanand allegedly retracted the statement later.
The defence had argued that the so-called confessional statement was extracted from Aseemanand to create a theory of 'Bhagwa Atankwad' (saffron terror)."
Soon after the verdict, the Congress and the BJP engaged in the usual slugfest. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra addressed a press conference, demanding an apology from the Congress for allegedly coining the phrase ‘saffron terror’ during the UPA rule.Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, in turn, raised questions about the functioning of the National Investigation Agency.
"It (acquittal) is happening in each case since the government was formed four years ago...people are losing faith in the agencies," he told news channels.
Aseemanand was also acquitted last year in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah terror attack. He is still an accused in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts case.
Media was barred from entering the courtroom during the pronouncement of the judgement.