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11 Years On, It's Judgment Day in Mecca Masjid Blast Case; Security Ramped Up in Hyderabad

Eight people, including Hindu right-wing members Aseemanand, Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharatbhai, Rajender Chowdhary and others were charged by the NIA in the blast case. The court, however, would deliver its verdict for only five accused.

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Updated:April 16, 2018, 10:15 AM IST
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11 Years On, It's Judgment Day in Mecca Masjid Blast Case; Security Ramped Up in Hyderabad
Policemen stand guard at the site of a blast in front of Mecca Masjid, the main mosque in Hyderabad, on May 18, 2007. (REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder)
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Hyderabad: A special NIA court will pronounce judgment in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case on Monday, 11 years after the powerful explosion killed nine people and injured more than 50 during Friday prayers near Hyderabad’s iconic Charminar.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made by the police in and around the court premises for the big verdict.

The explosion had ripped through the mosque on May 18, 2007. Two live IEDs were also recovered by police and defused. Later, five more people were killed in subsequent police firing on the crowd outside the mosque.

Eight people, including Hindu right-wing members Aseemanand, Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharatbhai, Rajender Chowdhary and others were charged by the NIA in the blast case. The court, however, would deliver its verdict for only five accused.

One accused Sunil Joshi, a RSS pracharak, was murdered during the course of investigation. Two other accused, Sandeep V Dange, former RSS pracharak and Ramchandra Kalsangra, electrician-cum-RSS activist, also from Madhya Pradesh, still elude the investigators.

In its chargesheet, the NIA had said that the accused were “angered by terrorist attacks committed on Hindus and their temples” and conspired to “avenge” such acts with attacks on Muslim places of worship and places densely populated by Muslims.

The blasts were allegedly carried out with a ‘bomb ka jawab bomb’ (bomb for a bomb) mindset.

The chargesheet also mentions that Aseemanand reportedly made a confessional statement before a metropolitan magistrate of Tis Hazari Court in Delhi. He had allegedly disclosed the conspiracy behind the bomb blasts in different places, including Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Aseemanand allegedly retracted the statement later.

Aseemanand was first arrested by CBI in 2010 but was granted conditional bail in 2017 in the case. He was earlier acquitted in Ajmer Dargah blast case, and has also got bail in Samjhauta Express blast case of 2014.

The defense has argued that there has been no direct evidence to prove the prosecution’s case.

Initially, the investigation by the local police focused on Muslim terror outfits and hundreds of local Muslim youths were picked up for questioning. The special investigation team even charged 26 on charges of conspiracy, suspecting their hand in the blasts. But they were later released by a court due to lack of evidence.

After uproar over the arrests of innocent Muslim youths, the case was transferred to the CBI. The CBI arrested members of a Hindu group — Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma in 2010 — changing the course of the investigation.

The NIA took over the case in April 2011. Between 2011 and 2013, NIA filed three supplementary chargesheets. Over 200 witnesses were examined during the trial.
| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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