2007 Mecca Masjid blast case verdict: 10 things to know
A special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Hyderabad acquitted all the accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, in which nine people were killed.
The blast at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007, also injured 58 others. Five people were killed in police firing in violence that followed the blast.
Here are 10 things you should know about the case:
1) The Hyderabad Police handled the probe initially and suspected Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI), a Pakistan-based terrorist group, to be behind the bombing. More than 90 men – unofficial figures put it at more than 200 – were picked up for interrogation and 21 of them were charge-sheeted.
2) The police blamed Bilal, linked to HuJI, as the mastermind behind the terror attack. He was later killed in a shoot-out. After a prolonged trial, the Nampally criminal court acquitted all the accused on January 1, 2009, for lack of evidence.
3) The case was then transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). It filed a charge sheet against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak Devender Gupta and property dealer and RSS activist Lokesh Sharma, who were part of the group led by former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi.
4) The NIA took over the case from the CBI in 2011. All the cases involving alleged right-wing workers were handed over to the NIA, which filed a supplementary charge sheet against former RSS activist Swami Aseemanand in the case.
5) Ten accused in the case:
Sandeep Dange, a former RSS pracharak
Ramachandra Kalsangra, an electrician and RSS activist
Sunil Joshi, former RSS pracharak
Swami Aseemanand, former RSS activist
Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai, private firm employee
Rajender Chowdhary, farmer
6) Only five of them — Gupta, Sharma, Aseemanand, Rateshwar and Chowdhary — were arrested and faced trial in the case. A court in Rajasthan sentenced Gupta and another convict to life in jail in March 2017 in the Ajmer Dargah blast case.
7) Two other accused — Dange and Kalsangra — are absconding and Joshi was shot dead by three unidentified gunmen on December 29, 2007, near his house in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas in during the course of the investigation.
8) The investigation against Parmar and Chouhan is still continuing.
9) Aseemanand and Rateshwar are out on bail and three other accused are in Hyderabad’s central prison under judicial remand.
10) More than 220 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents were exhibited.