Terror cases wherein members of saffron groups were accused, were weakened since BJP came to power in centre in 2014, say Muslim leaders
NEW DELHI– Several Muslim leaders have termed as “travesty of justice” the acquittal of former RSS pracharak Swami Aseemanand and four others from Hindu-right groups by a special NIA court in Hyderabad in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts case. The blasts had rocked the historic mosque during the Friday prayers, killing nine people and wounding around 50 others.
“It’s not only unfortunate but also travesty of justice and an open politically influenced decision,” said Navaid Hamid, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella body of eminent Muslim organizations.
Ten people from saffron groups were made accused in the case after the acquittal of all 21 Muslims by a local court for lack of evidence in 2009. The NIA, which took over the case from CBI in 2011, charged the following people: Swami Aseemanand, former RSS activist; Devender Gupta; Lokesh Sharma; Sandeep Dange, a former RSS pracharak; Ramachandra Kalsangra, an electrician and RSS activist; Sunil Joshi, former RSS pracharak; Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai, private firm employee; Rajender Chowdhary, farmer; Tejram Parmar; Amit Chouhan. Only five of them — Aseemanand, Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Rateshwar Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajender Chowdhary — were arrested and faced trial in the case. However, these five were acquitted by the NIA court on Monday (16 April).
Since BJP came to power in the centre in May 2014 and Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, several terror cases in which agencies had earlier arrested and charge-sheeted members of saffron groups were weakened and many of the arrested ones have been released on bail.
Commenting on this turn of event, AIMMM president Navaid Hamid told Caravan Daily that the development is result of political intervention “to save the Hindutva terrorist and wash away the open secret that Hindutva and hate organisations have nothing to do with terror activities.”
In recent months, Col. Purhoit and Sadhvi Pragya, who were arrested and charged in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, were granted bail by the courts and released.
Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan
Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan said Aseemanand’s acquittal shows justice is not possible in BJP’s rule.
“It is a dark day in India’s political and legal history. The long line of acquittals of Hindutvites accused in terror, encounter and riot cases during these past decade and a half means that justice is not possible under their rule,” he told Caravan Daily.
Veteran journalist, author and Islamic scholar Dr. Khan further said: “They have already damaged a lot of civilised India and if they get another term, the India they will leave behind will not be recognizable.”
Maulana Badruddin Ajmal
“Is the NIA working under pressure from those in power? After Sadhvi Pragya and Colonel Purohit, another group of right wing terrorists acquitted due to lack of evidence. Incident like this will weaken our fight against terrorism,” said AIUDF chief and Lok Sabha MP Maulana Badruddin Ajmal after the acquittal of Aseemanand.
Hyderabad MP and All India Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that majority of witnesses in the Mecca Masjid blast case “turned hostile after June 2014, NIA didn’t pursue the case as expected from it or was not allowed by “Political Masters””.
“What will be left of Criminal Justice system if such biased prosecutions continue,” he asked adding that justice has not been done in the case.
“Justice has not been done, NIA & Modi govt didn’t even appeal against Bail that was given to accused within 90 days. This was a complete biased investigation which will weaken our resolve to Fight Terrorism,” he tweeted.
Muslim Youths Were Acquitted in Mecca Masjid Blast Case in 2009
The serial blasts at the historic mosque on May 18, 2007 killed nine people during the Friday prayers. Soon after the blasts, hundreds of Muslims who were offering prayers in the mosque came out on the street to protest against the attack. The local police opened fire on the protesters, killing five of them.
As has been usual for the past two decades, scores of Muslims were hounded for the blasts. Around 90 Muslims (official figure, but unofficial figure is around 200) were detained and many were tortured. At least 21 of them were charge-sheeted. But in 2009, all of them were acquitted of the terror charges by a local court. Some of them were given compensation by the state government for wrongful confinement.
The blast case was later handed over to the CBI and it was taken over by the NIA in 2011. Several people including Aseemanand belonging to Hindu-right groups were arrested. During his stay in a local jail in Hyderabad, he was moved by the good behavior of a young prison mate. When he came to know that the young man was in the jail for the Mecca Masjid blast, his heart changed. Later before a magistrate, he confessed his involvement in the blasts and he was charge-sheeted by the NIA. But since BJP came to power in the centre in May 2014, the case took a new turn in favor of the accused.