Eleven years since a bomb ripped through Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, killing nine people and injuring many others, the NIA court has acquitted all the accused for the lack of evidence. The NIA court found no evidence against any of the ten people who were charged with the crime and named by the NIA.

Lack of evidence does not necessarily mean that all the accused are innocent. It is the same story which has been repeated in all the past cases. A bomb erupts, and the investigating authorities arrest a few suspects. The case drags on, and the court seldom gives bail to the accused considering the sensitivity of the situation.

Shoddy investigation without proper scientific and forensic backup makes the case fall like a house of cards. Only this time the accused are all from a right-wing party.

What happened

On May 18, 2007, a crowd of faithful had collected at the historic Mecca Masjid for Friday prayers when a powerful bomb ripped through the mosque injuring more than 58 people and killing nine worshippers. The case was first handled by the local police before it was handed over to CBI. The premier investigation agency had filed the charge sheet. Later when the threads of the investigation linked to the Samjhauta Blast Case, the case was taken over by the NIA from the CIA in 2011. The case was brought before the fourth additional metropolitan sessions-cum-special court for NIA cases which after the conclusion of the trial fixed April 16 for the judgment.

Ten people belonging to different Hindu extreme right-wing organization were named as accused by the NIA. One of the accused, Sunil Joshi who was a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak from Indore, Madhya Pradesh was murdered during the investigation.

The NIA was not able to ascertain any motive for the murder. Other accused included- Swami Aseemanand, Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary.Two of the accused Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, both electricians and hardcore RSS members, are still absconding.

The NIA presented a total of 226 witnesses. Aseemanand and Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar were given bail while the remaining three were lodged in the central prison in Hyderabad.Aseemanad was also the main accused in the Ajmer bomb case, and he was acquitted from the case in March 2017.

Of the ten, only five of them — Gupta, Sharma, Aseemanand, Rateshwar, and Chowdhary — were arrested and faced trial in the case. However, a court in Rajasthan sentenced Gupta and another convict to life in jail in March 2017 in the Ajmer Dargah blast case. The investigation against Parmar and Chouhan is continuing.

Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami

The Hyderabad police initially had blamed HUJI or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, a Pakistan based organization for the blast. It even named Bilal as the mastermind of the bombing. Bilal was later killed in a shootout. More than 90 people were picked up for interrogation while unofficial sources put the figure at 200. After a prolonged investigation, 21 persons were charge-sheeted. However, the Nampally criminal court acquitted all the accused on January 1, 2009, for lack of evidence.

The case is sure to have political repercussions. The Congress, which earlier hailed the Indian Judiciary when it gave the judgment in the 2G case has now done a u-turn and said that justice had not been delivered. Meanwhile, the likes of Asawuddin and Akhilesh Yadav from the Samajwadi party have expressed regret about the judgment. The BJP has maintained its stance of not commenting on the judgment and said that the Indian Judiciary is independent.

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