With evidence thin, NIA unlikely to file appeal
VHP: Cong framed innocent people, must apologise
New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is unlikely to challenge the acquittal of Swami Aseemanand and four others in the Mecca Masjid blast case as it has “little material evidence” against the accused and chargesheets were filed largely relying on confessional statements.
The confessional statements have been challenged with Aseemanand claiming he gave them under “duress”. The NIA said it will “examine the court judgment when we get a copy of the same and decide further course of action”.
However, sources said the NIA’s probe in the Mecca Masjid blast was based on identical confessional statements as in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah and Samjhauta blasts. It was difficult to sustain the argument that Aseemanand was the main link in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts once the latter case fell apart. In Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta blasts, no material evidence was recovered or presented by the NIA in court other than explosive samples.
The agency had claimed in its chargesheets that Aseemanand, who hails from West Bengal, was a key player in radicalising and recruiting people for the cause of “saffron vengeance” against jihadi terrorism by targeting Muslims. Apart from Aseemanand, there were a few common accused in the three cases — Sandeep Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra Reacting
to the acquittal of Aseemanand and four others , VHP sought an apology from former PM Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and former home ministers Shivraj Patil and Sushil Kumar Shinde for “framing innocent people” and “allowing actual culprits to flee the country”. “Congress leaders lobbied with jihadi elements and coined a factious Hindu terror term to frame innocent persons. Their plot not only led to arrest of innocent people but also allowed actual culprits to flee the law,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said.
He said the arrests made by the UPA government in the case were welcomed only by jihadi elements, whose agenda is to break the nation. Newly appointed VHP chief Alok Kumar said the verdict was a slap in the face of Congress , who had targeted Hindus to appease a section of society for political gains. (both absconding), Lokesh Sharma, Devendra Gupta and the slain Sunil Joshi.
In the Ajmer blast case, a Jaipur court had junked Aseemanand’s confession recorded in 2010, which the NIA had projected as its most credible evidence. The court had observed that Aseemanand's confession was “tainted” as it was taken in police custody.
The agency’s investiga- tion the in Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts stressed that Aseemanand had confessed to being part of a plot to perpetuate “Hindu terror”. “If Aseemanand, who was labelled as the link in these blasts, was acquitted in the Ajmer blast case last year, and there wasn’t any material evidence, then it would be difficult for NIA to sustain an appeal in Mecca Masjid blast as well,” an officer said.
The NIA had decided not to challenge Aseemanand’s acquittal in the Ajmer case as its legal team had advised that “it doesn't have any other tenable evidence other than that already presented in court”.
Former NIA chief Sharad Kumar had told TOI last year that the decision not to challenge Aseemanand’s acquittal in the Ajmer case was taken as “no purpose would be served in filing an appeal as the judgment had laid very strong grounds for acquittal”.
“Aseemanand is a victim of political terrorism. First Jaipur court and now Hyderabad court has ruled that he is innocent, which shows how a bundle of lies was weaved to frame him,” Aseemanand’s lawyer Manbir Rathi told TOI on Monday.
Officials said the acquittals in Mecca Masjid blast will affect the trial in Samjhauta case, which is going on in a Panchkula court. While most of the prime witnesses have retracted their statements, the NIA court is waiting for 13 Pakistani nationals to come to India and record their statements.