11 years later, Aseemanand goes free

The case was initially probed by Hussaini Alam police before being shifted to CBI and then to NIA

By Author  |  Published: 17th Apr 2018  12:05 amUpdated: 16th Apr 2018  11:42 pm
File photo of Mecca Masjid blast accused Swami Aseemanand who was acquitted by a special NIA cour in Hyderabad on Monday. PTI Photo

Hyderabad: Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, who was arrested in connection with the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case, was composed in the court hall when the verdict was delivered, acquitting him along with four others in the case.

“He always maintain cool and as usual he was cool after the judgement was delivered in a packed court hall,” said an advocate, who was present inside the court. Aseemanand along with Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary appeared before the court.

All the five persons got acquittal in the case that took place 11 years ago. Aseemanand, who is in early 70s, was arrested on November 19, 2011. After the verdict, Aseemanand and Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar, who were already released on bail, shifted to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
(RGIA) in Shamshabad to enable them reach their native places in Gujarat.

Devendra Gupta would be shifted to the jail in Ajmer while Lokesh Sharma and Rajendra Chowdhary to a jail in Panchakula in connection with pending bomb blast cases there.

The Mecca Masjid bomb blast case was initially probed by the Hussaini Alam police before being transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Following instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) started investigating the case.

The CBI had filed one charge-sheet while NIA had filed supplementary charge-sheet in the case.

CLMC blames probe agencies

The members of Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC) blamed the investigation agencies for failing to conduct a thorough investigation in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blasts on Monday.

CLMC general secretary Lateef Mohammed Khan said the role of Hyderabad police was unfair and biased at the time of the investigation.

“It is a known fact that the suspects arrested had carried out the blast. The main suspect Asimanand had admitted the crime in this regard already. The committee strongly believes that the police and other investigative agencies are not serious in proving the guilty,” he said.

After the blast, he said, police opened fire against the people, who were actually helping the victims then. “The committee assume the procedure followed during the investigation was not up to the mark,” he said.

‘It was plot against right-wing activists’

Swami Aseemanand’s Counsel JP Sharma on Monday said the then UPA government hatched a conspiracy to implicate right-wing activists in blast cases.

“We argued that the confessional statement extracted from Swami Aseemanand in Mecca Masjid blast case was to create a theory of ‘Bhagwa Atankwad’ (saffron terror)”, Sharma said.

“It was a bogus story created by some politicians during UPA regime to create sensation and divide people in the country. We hope no political leaders say such things in the future,” he said.

According to Sharma, the entire case was based on the confessional statement of Swami Aseemanand. Right from beginning, the defence had been placing before the court that this is not the statement of confession. There was no recovery from any of the arrested persons in the case and even there was no corroboration to the confessional statement of Swami Aseemanand.

Meanwhile, the State unit of Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has welcomed the verdict delivered by the court in Mecca Masjid blast case, acquitting all the five persons who faced the trial.

“It’s nothing but a slap on the face of those who tried to implicate the innocent Hindus in the name of Hindu terrorism,” said VHP State president M Rama Raju in a statement issued here on Monday. Swami Aseemanand along with those, who were implicated in the case, got justice after the court’s judgement.

Swami Aseemanand faced trauma because of false allegations made against him by the UPA government, he added.

NIA yet to get verdict copy

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will examine the court’s judgement after getting a copy and decide the future course of action, said NIA IG Alok Mittal. It might take a couple of days to get the order copy.

Security strengthened in court complex

Security was tightened at the Nampally criminal court complex on Monday in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast case verdict.

The police placed barricades in all the lanes connecting the court to restrict the movement of vehicles. Advocates, court staff, police personnel and those attending the trial were allowed into the court premises only after frisking them with door-frame and hand-held metal detectors at the two main gates.

As the movement of vehicles was restricted, those attending the court were forced to park their vehicles near the residential areas at Red Hills along with nearby ground.

Mild tension prevailed at the main gate when media persons staged a protest demanding the police officials to allow them to cover the court proceedings. Press persons squatted in front of the gate and raised slogans against the police. Later, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) P Viswa Prasad, who was inside the court, intervened and informed that they were only implementing the court orders.