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Mecca Masjid Blast Case: BJP Says Politics of ‘Defaming’ Hindus Exposed, Congress Questions NIA

The Congress asserted that there is nothing called 'saffron terror' and said it was of firm belief that terror cannot be linked to any religion or community, and made it clear its leader Rahul Gandhi or the party never used the phrase.

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Updated:April 16, 2018, 11:28 PM IST
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Mecca Masjid Blast Case: BJP Says Politics of ‘Defaming’ Hindus Exposed, Congress Questions NIA
File photo of Swami Aseemanand. (PTI photo)
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A war of words erupted between the BJP and the Congress on Monday after a court acquitted right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case.

While the BJP claimed that the verdict has exposed the opposition’s party’s “appeasement politics”, the Congress raised questions on the functioning of the National Investigation Agency.

Reacting to the court verdict, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that the Congress has long "defamed" Hindus for votes and demanded that party president Rahul Gandhi and his predecessor Sonia Gandhi apologise for terms such as "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror".

Hitting back at the Congress leaders for blaming the BJP government for the acquittal of the accused, he alleged that the opposition party has "double standards" and as it had welcomed a court order in favour of accused in the 2G scam case. Patra also noted that the Congress was in power for seven years after the blasts and asked what it had done during the period.

"For its appeasement politics, the Congress targeted and defamed Hindus and the country for merely some votes. That conspiracy has been exposed. The Congress has been exposed like never before," he said. Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi, Patra wondered if the Congress president would lead a candle march to India Gate and apologise for his attempts to "defame" Hindus.

The Congress asserted that there is nothing called 'saffron terror' and said it was of firm belief that terror cannot be linked to any religion or community, and made it clear its leader Rahul Gandhi or the party never used the phrase.

Congress spokesperson PL Punia said terrorism is a criminal mentality and it cannot be linked to any religion or community. "Rahul Gandhi or the Congress party has never used the words 'saffron terror'," he told reporters when asked about the BJP's allegations.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is visiting his constituency Amethi, steered clear of commenting on the issue and dodged a query by reporters on the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast.

Asked about the acquittal, Punia said they will assess the judgment first and then discuss it. "However, in preliminary reports it has been stated that the evidence was not provided and confessional statement is missing along with other documents. There seems some failure on the part of the prosecution. It would be proper to talk about it later after the judgement comes," he said.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, however, raised questions on the functioning of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the case. "It (acquittal) is happening in each case since the government was formed four years ago...people are losing faith in the agencies," he told news channels.

Former union home minister Shivraj Patil said it is the government which has to decide whether the NIA should appeal in the higher court or not, he added.

Former Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had in January 2013 at the Jaipur Chintan Shivir of Congress party accused the BJP and the RSS of promoting "Hindu terror" through its training camps, but later he expressed regret over his remarks after the BJP created uproar.

The Congress had, however, distanced itself from his terror remarks. Shinde in a statement on the eve of Budget session of Parliament in 2013 expressed regret over his "Hindu terror" remark, saying his comments had been misunderstood.

Before that, former home minister P Chidambaram had used the term "saffron terror" in 2010, but the party had distanced itself from his remarks, saying terrorism has no colour.

A special anti-terror court in Hyderabad on Monday acquitted Hindutva preacher Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, holding that the prosecution failed to prove "even a single allegation" against them, lawyers said.

A powerful blast, triggered by remote control, had ripped through the over four centuries-old mosque here during an assembly of devotees on May 18, 2007 when they had gathered for Friday prayers, killing nine people and wounding 58.

"Prosecution (NIA) could not prove even a single allegation against any of the accused and all of them stand acquitted," J P Sharma, the counsel for Assemanand, told reporters quoting special judge for NIA cases K Ravinder Reddy who delivered the verdict amid tight security.
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