A special NIA court in Hyderabad on Monday acquitted all five persons, including Aseemanand, in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case.
14 persons were killed and 58 injured in the blast. Ten persons were named as accused in the case. However, only five of them — Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary — who were arrested had faced trial in the case.
In March 2017, a court in Rajasthan had sentenced Gupta and others to life in jail in the Ajmer Dargah blast case.
Police have not been able to arrest the other two, who’ve been absconding for more than 10 years. They are Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra. The other accused, Sunil Joshi had died.
A total of 226 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents exhibited.
Aseemanand and Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar were on bail while three others have been lodged in the Central prison here under judicial remand.
Reacting to the news, AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi said, “#MMasjid Blast case verdict majority of witness turned hostile after June 2014 ,NIA didn’t pursue the case as expected from it /was not allowed by “Political Masters”Qs is what will be left of Criminal Justice system if such biased prosecutions continue Justice has nt been DONE.”
The verdict did not go down well with the victims’ family. “Who killed our brothers and sisters? Will we ever come to know the truth?” Rahmat Ali, an elderly gentleman standing outside the packed courtroom, was quoted by Times of India.
The NIA, which reports to the central government, had earlier acquitted Aseemanand in the Ajmer blast case. The national agency had decided not to oppose the conditional bail granted to Aseemanand, chargesheeted in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts case.
Aseemanand was arrested by the CBI from Haridwar in December 2010 for his alleged role in the Mecca Masjid blast.