Five accused in Mecca Masjid bomb blast case acquitted
Azad, Owaise raise questions
Hyderabad: A special anti-terror court here Monday acquitted right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, ruling that the prosecution failed to prove charges against them. Meanwhile, AIMIM leader Assadudin Owaise and Congress Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad rised questions over the verdict.
A massive blast had ripped through the Mecca Masjid on May 8, 2007, during Friday prayers, killing nine people and wounding 58.
Aseemanand’s counsel, J P Sharma, told reporters after the verdict by a metropolitan court for NIA cases that “The prosecution failed to prove allegations against the five accused who faced trial in the case and hence the court acquitted them,”
Those acquitted are: Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary, Sharma said.
The case was initially probed by the local police before being transferred to the CBI, and finally in 2011 to the NIA, the country’s premier anti-terror investigation agency.
Ten people with alleged links to Hindu right wing organisations were accused in the case.However, only five of them who were acquitted today faced trial.
Two other accused — Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra — are absconding, while Sunil Joshi was murdered.
Investigation is continuing against two other accused.
A total of 226 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents exhibited.
Swami Aseemanand and Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar were out on bail, while three others were lodged in the Central prison here under judicial remand.(PTI)
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad raised questions on the functioning of the (NIA) after a court acquitted right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case investigated by the central 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.
A special anti-terror court today acquitted the five men in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, ruling that the prosecution failed to prove charges against them.
When asked about the verdict, former Union home minister and Congress leader Shivraj Patil said, “I find it very difficult to say whether this is wrong or correct”.
He said he was not aware of the nature of charge-sheet filed by the probe agency, statements made by the witnesses and the cross-examination done by the prosecution.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi also alleged that the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case in which all the five accused facing trial were acquitted, had not been pursued properly by NIA.
Hyderabad Lok Sabha member Owaisi alleged on a micro-blogging site that 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.
Asserting that “justice hasn’t been done in the case,” Owassi said “questions would be raised over the criminal justice system (of the country) if such biased prosecutions continue.”
The firebrand MP alleged that the Modi government did not even appeal against the bail given to the accused earlier.
“Justice has not been done, the NIA & the Modi govt didn’t even appeal against the bail that was given to the accused within 90 days. This was a complete biased investigation which will weaken our resolve to fight terrorism,” said Owaisi, recaling that nine persons had died and many more were injured in the 2007 blast.
A special NIA court here today acquitted five persons, including Swami Aseemanand, in the case. Nine persons had been killed and 58 injured in the blast.
Ten persons were named as accused in the case but only five of them were arrested and sent up for trial.
The five who faced trial included Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohan Lal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Choudhary.
Two other accused in the case, Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra are still absconding, while another accused Sunil Joshi had died.
The NISA is still probing the case against the two absconding remaining accused.(PTI)