All 5 ac­quit­ted in Mecca...

The Asian Age - - Na­tion -

prayers. Two un­ex­ploded bombs were later re­cov­ered from the masjid. Five oth­ers were killed as po­lice opened fire to quell the ri­ot­ing mob af­ter the blast.

In all, 10 per­sons ow­ing al­le­giance to right- wing or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing Ab­hi­nav Bharat, were named as ac­cused in the case. The NIA had chargesheeted five per­sons — Swami Asee­m­anand, Deven­dra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharath Mo­han Lal Ratesh­war and Ra­jen­dra Choundary. All the five were ac­quit­ted by the court on Mon­day.

Two other ac­cused, San­deep V. Dange and Ram­chan­dra Kal­san­gra, are ab­scond­ing. In­ves­ti­ga­tion against two oth­ers — Te­jram Par­mar and Amith Chowhan — is still on. Another ac­cused, Su­nil Joshi, an RSS func­tionary, was shot dead on Dec 29, 2007, in De­was, Mad­hya Pradesh.

While Swami Asee­m­anand and Mr Ratesh­war, who were out on bail, came to the court on their own, Deven­der Gupta, Lokesh Sharma and Ra­jen­dra Choud­hary were brought amidst tight se­cu­rity.

he judg­ment was pro­nounced in a heav­ily guarded, closed court­room on the ground floor of the Nam­pally Crim­i­nal Com­plex. All the five ac­cused were present in the court when the ver­dict was pro­nounced.

The NIA ex­am­ined a to­tal of 226 wit­nesses dur­ing the trial and 411 doc­u­ments were ex­hib­ited. A to­tal of 64 wit­nesses turned hos­tile, in­clud­ing Lt. Col. Shrikant Puro­hit, a former ac­cused in the 2008 Male­gaon blast case, who was listed to iden­tify Swami Asse­m­anand.

Soon af­ter the blast in May 2007, the Andhra Pradesh po­lice sus­pected the in­volve­ment of Bangladesh- based ter­ror out­fit Harkat Ul Ji­had Al Is­lami’s ( HuJI) in­volve­ment and charged 21 youths.

A month later, the gov­ern­ment handed over the case to the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion ( CBI) which claimed that a Hindu ter­ror group was be­hind the Mecca Masjid blast, as well as the Oc­to­ber 11, 2007, Ajmer Dar­gah blast and the Fe­bru­ary 17, 2007, Samjhauta Ex­press blast.

Swami Assee­m­anand, sus­pected to be an ide­o­logue of rightwing Hin­dutva out­fit Ab­hi­nav Bharat, was ar­rested from Hard­war by the CBI on Novem­ber 19, 2010. He was granted con­di­tional bail in 2017 in the Mecca Masjid case

The case was sub­se­quently handed over to the NIA in 2011 which made some ar­rests and filed a chargesheet. While the NIA probe was on, Swami Asee­m­anand gave a signed dec­la­ra­tion that he and seven other mem­bers of Ab­hi­nav Bharat had car­ried out the blast.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors iden­ti­fied Ab­hi­nav Bharat as the rightwing ex­trem­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion al­legedly in­volved in the 2008 Male­gaon and the 2007 Ajmer blasts. It was de­scribed as a closed group of Hindu rad­i­cals who be­lieve in “bomb- for- abomb” ide­ol­ogy to counter ji­hadi ter­ror at­tacks.

Af­ter the judg­ment was pro­nounced on Mon­day, de­fence ad­vo­cate J. P. Sharma said, “Even the con­spir­acy al­le­ga­tions were not proved. The con­fes­sional state­ment, which the in­ves­ti­ga­tion agen­cies claimed was writ­ten by Swami Asee­m­anand, did not make any men­tion of his in­volve­ment in the blast. It was a po­lit­i­cal con­spir­acy.”

Sources in the NIA said that they are yet to de­cide about ap­peal against the ver­dict in a higher court. “The de­ci­sion is to be taken at the head­quar­ters’ level. We are await­ing a copy of the judg­ment copy and will for­ward it to the New Delhi head­quar­ters for le­gal ad­vice and per­mis­sion,” an of­fi­cial said.

The po­lice had made elab­o­rate se­cu­rity ar­range­ments out­side the court premises and in the city. Roads lead­ing to the courts were bar­ri­caded and armed po­lice­men were posted around the court.

Af­ter the ac­quit­tal of the ac­cused, AIMIM pres­i­dent Asadud­din Owaisi said that

the case had not been pur­sued prop­erly by the anti- ter­ror in­ves­tiga­tive agency NIA.

“Most of the wit­nesses in the Mecca Masjid blast case had turned hos­tile af­ter June 2014 and the NIA ei­ther didn’t pur­sue the case as was ex­pected from it or was not al­lowed by its po­lit­i­cal masters to do so. Jus­tice hasn’t been done in the case. Questions would be raised over the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem ( of the coun­try) if such bi­ased pros­e­cu­tions con­tinue,” he said.

The BJP at­tacked the Congress af­ter the ver­dict. “For its ap­pease­ment pol­i­tics, the Congress tar­geted and de­famed Hin­dus and the coun­try for merely some votes. That con­spir­acy has been ex­posed,” said Sam­bit Pa­tra, BJP spokesper­son.

The Congress coun­tered BJP’s al­le­ga­tions. “There is noth­ing called saf­fron ter­ror. It is our clear be­lief that ter­ror can­not be linked to any re­li­gion or any com­mu­nity or caste,” said P. L. Pu­nia, Congress spokesper­son.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.