In a blow to the Hyderabad police, the Metropolitan Sessions Court in Nampally on Thursday acquitted 10 accused in the Begumpet Task Force Office bomb blast case.
The case pertains to October 12, 2005, when a suicide bomber, allegedly from the Harkatul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), entered the premises of the Task Force building at Begumpet, and blew himself up.
Those who were acquitted were identified as Mohammed Abdul Kaleem (25), Mohammed Abdul Zahed (20), Shahed Bilal, Nafeequl Biswas (26), Mohammed Hilaluddin (22), Mohammed Shakeel Ahmed (40), Syed Haji (22), Abdul Khaja alias Amjad, Ajmal Ali Khan (45), Syed Azmath Ali (35), and Mahmood Baroodwala (45). The court cited a a lack of evidence, the Times of India reported.
The suicide bomber, Dalin, detonated himself in 2005, shortly after walking into the office building.
51-year-old home guard A Satyanarayana died on the spot, along with the bomber, while constable Venkata Rao sustained shrapnel injuries.
According to reports, the improvised explosive device (IED) was powerful enough to damage the roof of the building, and smash the glass panes of shops nearby.
The bomb blast sent ripples across the city, especially because it occurred a few hundred metres away from then Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy's camp office in Begumpet.
After a case was registered at the Punjagutta police station, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed to probe the incident.
The trials began in 2007, with 20 accused mentioned in the chargesheets. While 10 were in custody, and two had died, the rest were absconding.
In December that year, the first arrests in the case were made, with Abdul Kaleem from LB Nagar and Abdul Zahed from Moosarambagh.
Kaleem was reported to have aided Bilal throughout the time when the plan was hatched, and allegedly even watched from a distance as Bilal went to blow himself up.
The police had arrested 10 persons in the case, while adding that two key terror suspects â€“ Ghulam Yazdhani and Shahed Bilal â€” were shot and killed in an encounter in Delhi and Pakistan respectively.
While the trial began in 2007, the HC granted an injunction in 2010 on an alteration in the case, which was in turn vacated, after the Metropolitan Sessions Judge to the Special Court for Communal Disturbances took over the case within a year.
The Deccan Chronicle reported that the trial was stalled for two years from 2012, until investigating officer M Diwakar's return, after he traveled out of the country.
However, the investigation was expedited over the past year.
Thursdayâ€™s verdict can be challenged by both parties in the High Court.
Speaking to media persons, the counsel of the accused said that they would take a decision on approaching the HC to provide compensation to the youth, who had already spent many years in jail.
Taking to Twitter, Hyderabad MP and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that the accused were "exonerated by the court, as explosive substance found at the site and produced by prosecutors, didn't match."
"The police couldn't prove conspiracy, but the accused lost 10 years of their lives languishing in jail. Will the Investigation officers be made accountable?" he asked.