Congress president Rahul Gandhi today dodged a query on acquittal of right-wing activist Swami Aseemanand in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, which has prompted BJP to seek his apology for his party 'using' terms like "saffron terror" in the past.
The Congress president, who began his three-day visit to his Lok Sabha constituency Amethi and to neighbouring Rae Bareli represented by his mother Sonia Gandhi this morning, refused to take the question on the Hyderabad court verdict.
Asked by a reporter to comment on the verdict, Rahul, while emerging out of a programme, ignored the poser and told his driver to move ahead.
Soon after an anti-terror court in Hyderbad acquitted Assemanand and four others in the 2007 blast case, the BJP alleged that the Congress has long "defamed" Hindus for votes and demanded that Rahul and his predecessor Sonia Gandhi apologise for their party leaders using in the past terms like "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror."
Slamming the Congress over the issue after the verdict, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that the opposition party's "appeasement politics" of "defaming" Hindus has been exposed.
The NIA court earlier on Monday acquitted Aseemanand and four others in the Mecca Masjid blast case, ruling that the prosecution failed to prove charges against the accused in the case.
A massive blast had ripped through the Mecca Masjid on May 8, 2007, during Friday prayers, killing nine people and wounding 58.
The case was initially probed by the local police before being transferred to the CBI, and finally to the country's premier anti-terror investigation agency NIA in 2011.
Earlier on his arrival here, Rahul was given a warm welcome by his party workers.
He visited the house of a senior party leader Babban Dwivedi at Pure Badgain to express condolences over his mother's death and subsequently, also met some farmers working in the fields and inquired about their condition.
He also visited Pali, Urermau and Teunsi villages under Jagdishpur assembly segment and sought to know about the local people's problem.
Local BJP leaders, meanwhile, claimed that the Congress president's programme for inaugurating a five-km-long road built under the PMGSY has been put on hold.
"The road in Thauri area was constructed under the PMGSY and it will be inaugurated by Smriti Irani... Rahul Gandhi will be invited in that programme and, if he wants, he can attend it," BJP's district unit president Uma Shankar Pandey said.
When contacted, PMGSY's Executive Engineer K.K. Srivastava said the road is still incomplete and cannot be inaugurated till it's built completely.