All accused in Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case, including Aseemanand, acquitted by special NIA court


Hyderabad, April 16: A National Investigation Agency special court acquitted all accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case in Hyderabad on Monday.
Evidence against the accused is not satisfactory, the court said. There were five accused in the court on Monday.
The bomb blast during Friday prayers in the mosque adjacent to the historic Charminar in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007, killed nine people and injured 58 others. Five others were killed in police firing in violence that followed the blast.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which initially probed the case, and the National Investigation Agency charged 10 people in the case after interrogating 226 witnesses. The accused are related to a radical Hindu organisation called Abhinav Bharat whose members allegedly have ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The most well-known among the accused is Swamy Aseemanand, a right wing Hindu ideologue, who was acquitted in the 2007 Ajmer Sharif dargah blast and is on trial for the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombings.
Six accused belong to Madhya Pradesh: Sandeep Dange, a former RSS worker, Ramchandra Kalsangra, an electrician and RSS worker, property dealer Lokesh Sharma, farmer Rajender Chowdary, Tejram Parmar and Amith Chowhan. Dange and Kalsangra are absconding.
The other accused are RSS worker Devendra Guptha, a resident of Rajasthan, and private company employee Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar of Gujarat. An accused named Sunil Joshi, an RSS activist from Madhya Pradesh, was murdered on December 29, 2007 during the course of investigation.
Aseemanand, Guptha, Sharma, Rateshwar and Chowdary, who faced trial, were acquitted on Monday.
Initially, the Hyderabad police who investigated the case suspected it to be the handiwork of Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), a fundamentalist group supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The police picked up more than 90 youth – unofficial figures put it at more than 200 – for interrogation and finally, 21 youth were charge-sheeted.
The police blamed Bilal, linked to HuJI, as the mastermind behind the terror attack. He was later killed in a shoot-out. After a trial, the Nampally criminal courts acquitted all the accused on January 1, 2009 for lack of evidence. Subsequently, the Central government transferred the case to the CBI. Later, the case was handed over to NIA in 2011. (Courtesy: HT)