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news details
Five accused in Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case, including Aseemanand, acquitted by special NIA court
4/16/2018 3:58:26 PM
Agencies
A special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday acquitted five men, including Swami Aseemanand, accused of being involved in the Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad in 2007 that killed nine people citing lack of evidence.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker from Rajasthan Devendra Gupta, Madhya Pradesh property dealer Lokesh Sharma, an employee of a private company in Gujarat Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar and farmer Rajender Chowdhary were also among the acquitted. Chowdhary is also from Madhya Pradesh.

All the five men were present in the court on Monday.

“We will examine the court judgment after we get a copy of the same and decide further course of action,” an NIA official was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The country’s top anti-terror body can file an appeal against the acquittal of the accused before the high court. The family members of the victims can also approach the high court appealing against their acquittal.

Meanwhile, police sounded an alert in Hyderabad following the judgement and beefed up security in the communally sensitive old city. More than 3,000 policemen and personnel of paramilitary forces were deployed.

Deputy Commissioner of Police V Satyanarayana said police would keep a close watch on the movement of people at sensitive places through CCTV cameras. He said the police would deal firmly with any attempt to disturb law and order.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi said justice has not been done and that it was a “malicious and biased” prosecution done by NIA.

“NIA did not deliberately pursue the case. When the accused got the bail, NIA did not appeal seeking cancellation of bail within the mandatory period of 90 days. This itself shows the prosecution was so biased,” the member of Parliament from Hyderabad said.

“I blame it entirely on the Narendra Modi government and NIA for failing to bring the accused to book and let the criminal off. It is a failure of the Modi government,” he said.

Police have sounded the alert and over 3,000 security personnel were deployed near the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad after the verdict was announced. Deputy commissioner of police, V Satyanarayana, said the police had taken all necessary measures to prevent any untoward incident.

The Mecca Masjid blast adjacent to the historic Charminar on May 18, 2007, during Friday prayers, also injured 58 others. Five more were killed in police firing in violence that followed the blast.

The Hyderabad Police handled the probe initially and suspected Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), a Pakistan-based terrorist group, to be behind the Mecca Masjid blast. More than 90 men – unofficial figures put it at more than 200 – were picked up for interrogation and 21 of them were charge-sheeted.
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