Mecca Masjid blast verdict: Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal has come down heavily on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after all the accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case were acquitted by a special anti-terror court yesterday. Hindutva preacher Swami Aseemanand was among the five accused. In a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the NIA, Sibal said, “Mecca Masjid bomb blast. 9 killed 58 injured. NIA must be honoured for proving there was no killer!”. “Task well done ! Desh badal chuka hai !” he posted on Twitter.
The Congress leader’s jibe comes after some victims and relatives of those killed in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast claimed they have not got justice and urged the Telangana government to move the High Court against the special NIA court verdict.
Adding to the controversy barely hours after the much-debated verdict, special NIA court judge of Hyderabad K Ravinder Reddy, who pronounced the judgement, resigned citing personal reasons. He however made it clear that his resignation had nothing to do with the Mecca Masjid blast judgement. In fact, he said, he was considering resignation for quite some time, a senior judicial official said, according to reports.
The exoneration of all accused in the case also sparked off a political war of words. While the BJP trained guns at the Congress seeking its apology for perpetrating the Hindu terror angle into the incident, the judgement itself and the resignation of the judge provided fodder to the opposition parties to target the government instead. Apart from Sibal, AIMIM Chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, tweeted, “Judge who gave acquittal to all accused in Mecca Masjid Blast RESIGNS very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship decision”. The decision also drew criticism for the NIA from other opposition leaders including Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad.
“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 66-year-old Assemanand, told reporters after the verdict was pronounced by judge Reddy. The media was not allowed in the courtroom where the judgement was pronounced in the high-profile case, which was dubbed by the then UPA government as one of “Hindu terror”, a term that riled saffron organisations, including the BJP.
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.