Mecca Masjid blast, just another case amongst the others, just another fight of justice for the lives lost eleven long years ago. While people have now learned to move on, learned to raise their heads and breathe above the smoke of painful memories left by the blast, the chapter has been reopened, re-read and left right where it had started.
In Hyderabad, on Monday the 16th April, the special NIA (National Investigation Agency) court acquitted five of the accused in the Mecca Masjid blast of 2007. Considering the lack of evidence, the investigating agency had failed to prove anyone guilty, said the court.
In a Times of India report, defense lawyer JP Sharma said, “The judge in his order observed that not a single allegation leveled by the prosecution could be proved, and hence he declared all the accused acquitted.”
The total numbers of accused were ten, all being the members of Abhinav Bharat. The main accused included Nabakumar Sirkar also known as Swami Aseemanand, who was also acquitted in the Ajmer Shareef Dargah blast. The other accused in that case were Devendar Gupta, Mohanlal Rateshwar, Rajendar Chowdhary and Lokesh Sharma a.k.a Ajay Tiwari. The other accused who have been acquitted in the Mecca Masjid Blast Case are Sandeep Dange, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sunil Joshi. Out of these, Joshi was shot dead as the case was being investigated and the other two had escaped and are on the run.
EXPLOSION AND THE INVESTIGATION:
On 18th May 2007, a normal day like any other, an explosion was heard and felt by thousands during the Friday prayers. Later discovered it was a pipe bomb explosion triggered by a cell phone that killed 9 and injured 58. Other 5 were found dead when the police opened fire to control the mob that had gotten out of control running for their lives. There were more than 10,000 people inside the mosque at the time of the explosion, suggests the reports.
The police had found more two live IED’s that were defused successfully. It is said that the bomb was placed under a very heavy platform of marble which saved most of the damage to life as it took the force of the impact.
Initially the case was registered at the Hussaini Alam police station. After the basic investigation process by the local police, the case was transferred to the CBI. On suspicion of planning and execution of the said blast, Hyderabad police had detained at least 38 Muslim youths.
It was only in April 2011 that the NIA took over the probe. 226 witnesses were examined and 411 documents were exhibited. One of Times of India reports stated that NIA charge sheet said that the accused were angered by the terrorist attacks on Hindus and the temples and planned to avenge.
64 of the examined witnesses turned hostile later. Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit was one of the examined witnesses who turned hostile on 14th February this year. Purohit claimed that his statement was never recorded neither by CBI nor by NIA. N. Harinath, NIA’s Special Public Prosecutor told The India Express that Purohit was one of the listed witnesses for identifying Swami Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi, Devendra Gupta and other accused, and proved that Aseemanand had called him after the murder of Joshi.
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On 19th November 2010, Swami Aseemanand, former RSS activist was arrested in the mecca masjid blast case. It is said that he also later gave a signed declaration that he including other members from Abhinav Bharat were involved in the conspiracy and execution of the bomb blast.
Swami Aseemanand along with Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar is out on bail since 2017. In the same year, Rajasthan court had found him guilty and sentenced Gupta and other convict of life imprisonment in the Ajmer Dargah blast case. While three others are in Hyderabad central prison under judicial remand.
THE BLAME GAME:
Asaddudin Owaisi, AIMIM chief, questioned the NIA in a series of tweets saying “justice has not been done” further he added that NIA team did not “pursue the case as expected”.
On the other hand, The India Express reported that a BJP leader B.Ramchandra Rao said, “Swami Aseemanand was forced to give confessional statement.” While the concerned authorities of NIA just stated that they will examine the court judgment after they get a copy and decide further course of action, reported ANI.
As the responsible mouths are most likely to engage in a verbal fight as always, the question everyone refuses to address hangs heavy in minds of the loved ones of the victims… “How much more long than 11 years will it take for justice to be delivered?”