Mecca Masjid blast suspects acquitted: Blow to 'Hindu terror' claim?

Mecca Masjid (File) The Mecca Masjid | AFP

All five accused in the bomb explosion at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad in 2007 were acquitted by a special court of the National Investigation Agency in the city on Monday. The incident was one of the most prominent cases attributed to 'Hindu terrorism'. The acquittal is likely to be construed by the BJP and rightwing organisation's as a rejection of the Congress' claim of 'Hindu terrorism'.

The court stated that the accused were acquitted on account of there being 'no direct evidence' against them.

Nine people were killed and 58 injured in the blast, which happened during Friday prayers.

The case was initially investigated by the local police before being transferred to the CBI, and finally taken over by the NIA in 2011. While 10 people from Hindu rightwing groups were initially named accused, five were arrested—Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary.

Aseemanand and Rateshwar were out on bail.

Aseemanand was a former functionary of the RSS. His 'confession' in a Delhi court in 2010 that some Hindu activists wanted to respond to Islamist terror attacks was used as evidence of the existence of Hindu terrorism. However, Aseemanand later claimed he was coerced into confessing.

In March 2017, Gupta and another accused were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Rajasthan court in the Ajmer Dargah blast, which also happened in 2007. Two other accused, Sandeep V. Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, are absconding.

(With agency inputs)