Mecca Masjid blast verdict: All accused acquitted, 11 years in recap

India Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi addressing the media in Hyderabad last year. Owaisi has claimed that many witnesses in the Mecca Masjid blast case turned hostile after 2014 when the BJP came to power

The Court while delivering its verdict acquitted all the 10 accused including Swami Aseemanand, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member who had given a signed confession. Two accused, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, are still absconding.

In September 2013, Hyderabad High Court set aside the compensation paid to Muslim youths wrongly arrested in the Mecca Masjid blast case, an order that the state government protested against. The court's verdict on Monday, brought no satisfactory news to the victim families, but, it was a great relief for Swami Aseemanand and the others. The blast reportedly killed three people and injured 17 others. Later, the matter was transferred to the CBI, but then this case went to the NIA. However, only five among the arrested - Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary - faced trial in the case.

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. He was earlier acquitted in Ajmer Dargah blast case and also got bail in the Samjhauta Express blast case of 2014. After this, the matter was handed over to the NIA by the CBI in 2011. "I was very moved by Kaleem's good conduct and my conscience asked me to do prayschit (penance) by making a confessional statement so that real culprits can be punished and no innocent has to suffer". The other accused, Sunil Joshi had died. "Witnesses turned hostile in the case".

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A lawyer of one of the accused told reporters outside the Nampally criminal court complex here that the court held that the prosecution failed to prove the charges. All are from Madhya Pradesh, according to reports.

"Justice has not been done, the NIA & the Modi govt didn't even appeal against the bail that was given to the accused within 90 days".

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