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Hours After Delivering Mecca Masjid Blast Verdict,Special NIA Judge Ravinder Reddy Resigns

The special anti-terror court acquitted Hindutva preacher Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case.

Hours After Delivering Mecca Masjid Blast Verdict,Special NIA Judge Ravinder Reddy Resigns
Hours After Delivering Mecca Masjid Blast Verdict,Special NIA Judge Ravinder Reddy Resigns

Hours after delivering the Mecca Masjid bomb blast verdict, special NIA Judge Ravinder Reddy resigned on Monday, according to initial reports.

Reddy tendered his resignation citing personal reasons, according to Times Now.

President of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party (AIMIM) Asaduddin Owaisi  called the resignation "Intriguing".

"Judge who gave acquittal to all accused in Mecca Masjid Blast RESIGNS very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship decision," Owaisi tweeted.

The special anti-terror court 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.

Media was barred entry in the courtroom during the pronouncement of the judgement in the high-profile case, dubbed as one of "Hindu terror", a term that riled the BJP and saffron organisations no end.

Aseemanand was acquitted last year in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah terror attack. He is an accused in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts case.

Apart from him, those acquitted are -- Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary.

Though there were 10 accused in the case, only these five were tried. Two other accused -- Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra -- were absconding, while Sunil Joshi was murdered. Investigation is continuing against two others.

The bomb had exploded in an area of the mosque where devotees performed ablutions. Two more Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were later found and defused by the police.

The incident had triggered violent protests and riots, prompting police action in which five more people were killed.

The case was initially probed by the local police before being transferred to the CBI, and finally in 2011 to the NIA, the country's premier anti-terror investigation agency.

The CBI had filed one charge sheet, while NIA subsequently submitted supplementary charge sheets in the case.

The NIA spokesperson in Delhi said today that the agency will decide its future course of action after going through the order.

Buoyed by the verdict, the BJP claimed that it had "exposed" the Congress' "appeasement politics", while the latter raised questions about the functioning of the NIA.

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 using terms like "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror".

Patra said people will teach the Congress "a lesson" in the Karnataka Assembly polls as in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when the party was reduced to 44 seats.

"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.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "It (acquittal) is happening in each case since the government was formed four years ago...People are losing faith in the agencies."

AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi claimed that the NIA did not properly pursue the case, leading to the acquittal of the accused.

"MMasjid Blast case verdict majority of witness turned hostile after June 2014, NIA didn't pursue the case as expected from it/was not allowed by Political Masters. Qs is what will be left of criminal justice system if such biased prosecutions continue (sic).

"Justice hasnt been done," the Hyderabad Lok Sabha member said on a micro-blogging site.

According to Sharma, the court after examining documents and material placed on record found that the charges did not stick.

"This entire case was based on confessional statement of Swami Aseemanand. Right from the beginning, we had been placing before the court that this is not a statement of confession.

"The defence argued that the so-called confessional statement was forced from Swami Aseemanand in order to create a theory of 'Bhagwa Atankwad' (saffron terror)," he said.

The court, Sharma said, held that the confessional statement of Aseemanand was not voluntary. "The CBI had got the statement of Swami Aseemanand recorded in Delhi while he was in police custody during December 2010," he said.

Sharma claimed the investigating officer of the CBI had "intentionally" implicated the accused to sully the image of 'Sant Samaj' (the fraternity of seers) and the RSS, to which those acquitted belonged at some point of time.

He claimed nothing incriminating was recovered from any of the accused, and that there was no corroboration to the "confessional" statement of Aseemanand.

Sharma quoted Assemanand as having said after the verdict that he has full faith in the judiciary.

(With PTI inputs)


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