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Judge acquits Mecca blast accused, quits hours later

Press Trust of India  |  Hyderabad 

A special anti-terror court today acquitted preacher and four others in the Masjid blast case, holding that the prosecution failed to prove "even a single allegation" against them.

Barely hours after pronouncing the judgement, in a dramatic development, K Ravinder Reddy, the for NIA cases, tendered his resignation, citing "personal" reasons.

Reddy said his resignation had nothing to do with today's judgement, according to a

Meanwhile, and Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted "who gave acquittal to all accused in Masjid Blast RESIGNS very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship decision".

A powerful blast, triggered by remote control, had ripped through the over four centuries-old mosque here during an assembly of devotees on May 18, 2007 when they had gathered for Friday prayers, killing nine people and wounding 58.

"Prosecution (NIA) could not prove even a single allegation against any of the accused and all of them stand acquitted," J P Sharma, the for Assemanand, told reporters after the verdict was pronounced by for NIA cases K

The media was not allowed in the courtroom where the judgement was pronounced in the high-profile case, which was dubbed by the then as one of "Hindu terror", a term that riled saffron organisations, including the BJP, no end.

"He has sent the resignation letter to MSJ...he has cited personal grounds and it has nothing to do with today's verdict in the Masjid blast case," the senior judicial told PTI, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Reddy, had apparently taken the decision to resign sometimes back itself, the said.

Soon after the verdict, had come in for attack by oppostion parties, including the and

Apart from Aseemanand, those acquitted are -- Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, alias Bharat Bhai and

Though there were 10 accused in the case, only these five were tried. Two other accused -- and -- are absconding, while was murdered. Investigation is continuing against two others.

The bomb had exploded in an area of the mosque where devotees performed ablutions. Two more Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were later found and defused by the police.

The incident had triggered violent protests and riots, prompting police action in which five more people were killed.

Buoyed by the verdict, the BJP claimed that it had "exposed" the Congress's "appeasement politics" while the latter raised questions about the functioning of

alleged in New that the has long "defamed" Hindus for votes and demanded that and his predecessor apologise for using terms like "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror".

Patra said people will teach the "a lesson" in the polls as in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when the party was reduced to 44 seats.

Senior Congress said, "It (acquittal) is happening in each case since the government was formed four years ago...people are losing faith in the agencies."

Owaisi, in an earlier tweet, claimed that did not properly pursue the case, leading to the acquittal of the accused.

According to Aseemanand's Sharma, the court after examining documents and material placed on record found that the charges did not stick.

"This entire case was based on confessional statement of Right from beginning we had been placing before the court that this is not the statement of confession.

"The defence argued that the so-called confessional statement was forced from in order to create a theory of 'Bhagwa Atankwad' (safron terror)," he said.

The court, said, held that the confessional statement of Aseemanand was not voluntary. "CBI had got the statement of Swami Aseemanand recorded in while he was in police custody during December 2010," he said.

claimed the investigating officer of the CBI had "intentionally" implicated the accused to sully the image of 'Sant Samaj' (the fraternity of seers) and the RSS, to which those acquitted belonged at some point of time.

He said nothing incriminating was recovered from any of the accused, and that there was no corroboration to the "confessional" statement of Aseemanand.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 16 2018. 20:00 IST