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2007 Mecca Masjid Blast Case: Swami Aseemanand, 4 Others Walk Free; BJP Demands Apology Over 'Saffron Terror' Remark

Ten people with alleged links to Hindu right wing organisations were accused in the case. However, only five of them who were acquitted today faced trial.

News18.com

Updated:April 16, 2018, 6:24 PM IST
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Hyderabad: A special anti-terror court on acquitted right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, ruling that the prosecution failed to prove charges against them.

A massive blast had ripped through the Mecca Masjid on May 8, 2007, during Friday prayers, killing nine people and wounding 58.

Aseemanand's counsel, JP Sharma, told reporters after the verdict by a metropolitan court for NIA cases that "The prosecution failed to prove allegations against the five accused who faced trial in the case and hence the court acquitted them. Those acquitted are Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary,” Sharma said.

The case was initially probed by the local police before being transferred to the CBI, and finally in 2011 to the NIA, the country's premier anti-terror investigation agency.

Ten people with alleged links to Hindu right wing organisations were accused in the case. However, only five of them who were acquitted on Monday faced trial.

Two other accused — Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra — are absconding, while Sunil Joshi was murdered. Investigation is continuing against two other accused.

A total of 226 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents exhibited.

Swami Aseemanand and Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar were out on bail, while three others were lodged in the Central prison here under judicial remand.

Soon after the verdict, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra addressed a press conference, demanding an apology from the Congress for allegedly coining the phrase ‘saffron terror’ during the UPA rule.

“Saffron terror was a very derogatory term. Will Rahul Gandhi step out with a candle at midnight to apologise for it,” Patra asked.

Speaking to News18, Congress leader Shivraj Patil, who was the Union home minister when the blast took place, denied his party had coined the term.

“Most of the witnesses have gone hostile. What questions were asked in the cross-examination to the witnesses has to be seen… Why should I apologise to anyone? The Congress never mislead the nation. I cannot give judgment on something that has not been said by the Congress party,” Patil said.

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