With ev­i­dence thin, NIA un­likely to file ap­peal

VHP: Cong framed in­no­cent peo­ple, must apol­o­gise

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - | MECCA MASJID CASE -

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.

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