The special NIA court on Monday acquitted all five accused in the Mecca Masjid case. One of the primary reasons that the court cited while acquitting the accused was wanted of evidence.
Like the cases reported in Ajmer, Malegaon and Samjautha Express this was another one which took a u-turn where investigations were concerned. On May 18, 2007, a blast ripped across the Mecca Masjid which resulted in the death of 9 persons and injured 58 others.
When the Hyderabad police first probed into the case, it said that it was the handiwork of some Muslim youth who wanted to cause communal tension. The case was later transferred to the CBI before the National Investigation Agency took over the probe finally. The NIA filed three supplementary chargesheets in the case and in it five persons including Swami Aseemanand were named. It may be recalled that he was also named in the Samjautha Express attack and in the Ajmer case as well. In the Ajmer case, he was acquitted after being given the benefit of doubt as several witnesses turned hostile.
The same was reported in the Mecca Masjid blasts as well. There were 254 witnesses who were examined by the probe agency, but several turned hostile. In 2016 four key witnesses turned hostile in the case. During the examination, they denied that the accused persons had used their mobile phones.
Another interesting event that was witnessed in the Mecca Masjid case was the payment of compensation to the Muslims youths who were initially arrested. The state government had in 2013 paid Rs 3 lakh each to 20 persons and Rs 20,000 to 50 others. This was probably for the first time that compensation was being paid to people wrongly arrested. The High Court had however set aside the compensation paid to the youth and ordered the government to recover the money. The court said that a mere acquittal or discharge from a criminal case cannot be the basis for payment of such compensation.
The change in narrative in these cases had become a subject matter of debate. Many accused the then UPA government of introducing a theory called Hindu terror when none existed. Recently an accused in the Malegaon 2008 blast case said that Hindu activists were framed by the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra. He said that this was done to appease the Muslim voter and prove that there was a concept called Saffron terror.
The investigators wanted to know from me about the profile of Yogi and his organisation Hindu Yuva Vahini. The way they repeatedly questioned me about Yogi indicated that he was their main target, and they wanted to frame a prominent saffron-clad personality in the case, Chaturvedi had said. The ATS wanted to know my connection with the RSS and its leader. In custody, I was subject to torture worse than third degree along with the other co-accused, he also said.