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Mecca verdict: Judge's resignation casts doubt over acquittal; top updates

Lack of evidence was cited as the main reason by the NIA court for acquitting all the five accused

BS Web Team 

Mecca Masjid blast
Special NIA judge Ravindra Reddy who delivered the Mecca Masjid case verdict

Hours after acquitting 5 people being probed by the Investigating Agency (NIA) in the 2007 Mecca blast case, special court judge on Monday tendered his resignation, leading to the speculations that his resignation might be connected with the acquittal. Reddy, who is also the President of the Telangana Judges Association, cited "personal reasons" for his resignation and claimed this decision had nothing to do with Monday's verdict. Media reports suggested that he had been considering resignation for quite some time. When the took over the Mecca blast case from CBI, the families of the dead victims and those who were injured found some ray of hope that they might find justice and those found guilty would be punished. But those hopes seemed shattered on Monday when the special court acquitted all the five accused, including Naba Kumar Sarkar, alias Lack of evidence was cited as the main reason by the NIA court while acquitting all the five accused. On May 18, 2007, an improvised explosive device (IED) had torn through Mecca Masjid and killed nine people, besides injuring 58 others. The first chargesheet was filed by the CBI in December 2010. In April 2011, NIA took over the case from CBI and had filed three supplementary charge sheets in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Also Read: Swami Aseemanand; science graduate who donned saffron Here are the top developments in the case verdict and the acquittal of all the five accused in the case for lack of evidence: 1) VHP says Mecca verdict a slap on UPA's face: While welcoming the special NIA court verdict, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) termed it as a 'slap on the face of the 'anti-Hindu' UPA government. In his first statement after assuming the charge of the VHP's working international president Alok Kumar said, "For the sake of minority appeasement, the Congress government had hatched a conspiracy to save real culprits in the name of Hindu terrorism." He further said Pakistan was the happiest country at that time when innocent Hindus were implicated while real culprits moved freely. 2) Asaduddin Owaisi blames the NIA for acquittal: All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Moday blamed the Investigation Agency (NIA) for the acquittal of the five accused in the 2007 case. "This whole prosecution done by the NIA was basically to ensure that all accused were acquitted by courts. I am not complaining about the courts as it is for the prosecution to prove, because this is not a small crime," said Asaduddin Owaisi. 3) Victim's family demand justice: Following the acquittal of five accused in the 2007 Mecca case, family of one of the deceased has demanded justice. Rehana Begum, the younger sister of deceased Saleem, told ANI that her brother had died in the police firing that ensued after the blast took place. "This all happened due to some those who planned and executed the blast. Now court has acquitted all of them, then who are the real accused persons who done this? We have lost a person in our family who took care of us. The accused should be arrested. We demand justice," she said. Earlier in the day, a special Investigation Agency (NIA) court at Nampally acquitted five accused in the over a decade-long case, citing lack of evidence provided by the NIA against them. Also read: Chronology of the Mecca Blast case 4) Victims and families consider approaching High Court: Some relative of the deceased and injured expressed dissatisfaction on the verdict and have considered approaching the High Court to appeal against the verdict.

Reacting to the acquittal, Fayaz Khan, who lost his uncle and brother-in-law in the blast, said he was "upset" over the judgement.

"We have not got is the responsibility of the government to move the High Court against today's judgment and see to it that all of them are punished accordingly," he said. 5) not out of troubled waters yet: Cleared in the Mecca blast case, the swami of this case also faces a trial in the 2007 Samjhauta Express train blast case since. He was earlier acquitted in the Ajmer Dargah blast case.

A resident of Gujarat and head of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Aseemanand was formerly associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
6) tense after the verdict: Alert was sounded in by the police and security was also beefed up following the acquittal of all the five accused in the Mecca blast case. A close watch was kept on the movement of people in the city through CCTV cameras, Deputy Commissioner of Police V Satyanarayana informed, he also said that the police had taken all necessary measures to prevent any untoward incident 7) Media barred from court complex: The police of had taken over the court complex on Monday before the verdict and all roads leading to the court complex were barricaded by the police. Around 10:30 am, all journalists were escorted out of the court complex as the judges did not wanted the presence of journalists while delivering the verdict. 8) What happened in 2007: On May 18, 2007, during the Friday prayers, an improvised explosive device exploded in Mecca Masjid killing nine people and injuring 58 others.

Five others died during the police shooting in the riots that followed. 9) The investigation that followed: There were a total of 10 accused in the case and five of them were chargesheeted by the NIA. One, Sunil Joshi, a RSS pracharak, was murdered during the course of investigation. Three accused, Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, both RSS activists, and Amit Chowhan, are absconding while Tejram Parmar is on bail. A total of three chargesheets were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the NIA in the sensational case. Over 200 witnesses were examined and 400 documents were submitted to the court. The city police, which initially took up investigations, blamed Bangaldeshi terror outfit Harkatul Jihad Islami and rounded up about 100 Muslim youth. All those arrested and jailed were acquitted in 2008 and the subsequent investigations by the CBI in 2010 revealed that the blast was the handiwork of Hindu rightwing group Abhinav Bharat. The case was handed over to NIA on April 4, 2011. 10) BJP Reacts: Soon after the NIA court's verdict, BJP alleged that COngress's appeasement politics has been exposed and Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi should apologise for their remarks about 'hindu terror' The BJP alleged that the Congress has long "defamed" Hindus for votes and by using terms like "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror."

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 13:13 IST