Hyderabad: The special NIA court in Hyderabad today acquitted five accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case. Citing lack of evidence, the court said that the investigation agnecy had failed to prove anyone’s guilt. Ten persons, all members of Abhinav Bharat, including Nabakumar Sirkar alias Swami Aseemanand; Devender Gupta; Lokesh Sharma alias Ajay Tiwari, Lakshman Das Maharaj, Mohanlal Rateshwar and Rajender Chowdhary were named as accused in the case. Two accused, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, are still absconding. A key accused and RSS functionary, Sunil Joshi, was shot when the case was being investigated.
The pipe bomb explosion at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad killed eight and left 58 others injured. Five others were also killed after police opened fire to control a rioting mob during the Friday prayers in Mecca Masjid on May 18, 2007.
After an initial investigation by the local police, the case was transferred to CBI, which filed a chargesheet. The NIA took over the probe in April 2011. A total of 226 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents exhibited. During the examination, 64 of them, including Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, turned hostile.
All accused in the Macca Masjid blast case were acquitted by the special NIA court in Hyderabad. No evidence was presented the court said in its judgment. NIA’s forensic reports suggested a link between the blasts at Malegaon (2006, 2008), Ajmer Sharif (2007), Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad (2007), Modasa in Gujarat (2008) and on board the Samjhauta Express (2006). In March 2017, Aseemanand, was acquitted in the Ajmer Shareef Dargah blast case. He was later given bail by a court in Hyderabad.
During the trial, the prosecution led by NIA’s Chief Public Prosecutor N Harinath, examined 226 listed witnesses. During examination 64 of them, including Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, turned hostile on February 14, 2018. Purohit claimed that his statement was never recorded, either by the CBI or NIA. Purohit was listed as witness to identify Swami Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi, Devendra Gupta and other accused, and prove that Aseemanand called him after the murder of Joshi, an accused in Ajmer Dargah blast case.
Hyderabad Police detained at least 38 Muslim youths on suspicion of being involved in the planning and execution of the blast. The case was first registered at Hussaini Alam Police Station and was then handed over to CBI. Swami Aseemanand and Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar are out on bail while three others have been lodged in Hyderabad’s Central prison.