Mecca Masjid blast victims likely to move Hyderabad HC against NIA verdict

The special NIA court had recently acquitted all the accused in the case, including Aseemanand, citing lack of evidence.
Mecca Masjid blast victims likely to move Hyderabad HC against NIA verdict
Mecca Masjid blast victims likely to move Hyderabad HC against NIA verdict
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The families of the victims who lost their lives in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast in 2007 are planning to move the Hyderabad High Court to challenge the decision taken by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court to acquit all accused in the case.

Nine people offering Friday prayers at the Mecca Masjid were killed and 58 others were injured in the bomb blast on May 18, 2007. 

The NIA court held that none of the charges framed against the accused, including Aseemanand, had been proved.

Right-wing Hindu activists Nabakumar Sarkar, alias Aseemanand; Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar, alias Bharat Bhai, and Rajender Chowdhary, against whom the charges were framed, were all acquitted.

Speaking to TNM, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee general secretary Lateef Khan said, "The families are not happy with the judgement and said that they will be willing to file an appeal as they are getting support from the public. We are just waiting for a copy of the judgement."

This comes even as reports suggest that the NIA is yet to decide if it wants to challenge the acquittal. 

"The NIA should appeal the case as there is public pressure and if it doesn't, more questions will be raised. The Telangana government also has to respond as the state is not absolved of responsibility after the judgement. They will also have to answer the people in the 2019 elections," Lateef said.

Within hours of the verdict, special NIA court judge K Ravinder Reddy tendered his resignation, surprising legal and political circles. His letter was sent to the Chief Justice of the Hyderabad High Court.

There was no information if his decision was linked to the verdict or some other issue, but it was rejected by the CJ, as norms dictate that at least a 3-month notice must be given if the judge wants to avail voluntary retirement and seek pension.

According to reports, Reddy would turn 58 in June this year and would become eligible to retire with full benefits, unless granted an extension.

"The decision by the judge has already made the case quite controversial. Authorities must work on quelling the fears of the people," Lateef said, adding that the full judgement should be made available within the next one week.

Not only were people killed and injured in the powerful explosion that rocked the 17th-century mosque near the iconic Charminar, but five more people were killed in the subsequent police firing on the crowd outside the mosque a day later.

There were a total of 10 people accused in the case and five of them were chargesheeted by the NIA. One, Sunil Joshi, an RSS pracharak, was murdered during the course of investigation. Three accused, Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, both RSS activists, and Amit Chowhan, are absconding while Tejram Parmar is on bail.

A total of three chargesheets were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the NIA in the sensational case. Over 200 witnesses were examined and 400 documents were submitted to the court.

The city police, which initially took up investigations, blamed Bangaldeshi terror outfit Harkatul Jihad Islami and rounded up about 100 Muslim youth from across the city. Many of the youth jailed then have alleged torture in the hands of the police. All those arrested and jailed were acquitted in 2008 and the subsequent investigations by the CBI in 2010 revealed that the blast was the handiwork of the Hindu right-wing group Abhinav Bharat. The case was handed over to NIA on April 4, 2011.

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