Mecca Masjid case: 'Rahul Gandhi never used the word saffron terror', says Congress

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    The Congress came out in defence of Rahul Gandhi and said that he never used the word Hindu terror. The reactions came in the aftermath of an NIA court in Hyderabad acquitting all five accused in the Mecca Masjid blasts case.

    Rahul Gandhi

    Congress spokesperson P L Punia said terrorism is a criminal mentality and it cannot be linked to any religion or community.

    "Rahul Gandhi or the Congress party has never used the words 'saffron terror'," he told reporters when asked about the BJP's allegations. "It is mere rubbish. There is nothing called saffron terror. It is our clear belief that terror cannot be linked to any religion or any community or caste. It is a criminal mentality which leads to criminal activity and it cannot be linked to any religion or community," he told reporters. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is visiting his constituency Amethi, steered clear of commenting on the issue and dodged a query by reporters on the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast.Asked about the acquittal, Punia said they will assess the judgement first and then discuss it.

    However, in preliminary reports, it has been stated that the evidence was not provided and the confessional statement is missing along with other documents. There seems some failure on the part of the prosecution. It would be proper to talk about it later after the judgement comes," he said. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, however, raised questions on the functioning of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the case. "It (acquittal) is happening in each case since the government was formed four years ago...people are losing faith in the agencies," he told news channels. Former Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said he would have to study the judgement before commenting on it.

    "How can I comment whether the judgment is correct or wrong until I read judgment and the charge sheet? Will need to study details of the judgment before commenting on it, former Union Minister Shivraj Patil told PTI. It is the government which has to decide whether the NIA should appeal in the higher court or not, he added. Punia said, "We believe in the judiciary. If the court says documents have been stolen or evidence has not been present, then we can raise questions that it is the failure of the prosecution." A special anti-terror court in Hyderabad today acquitted Hindutva preacher Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case, holding that the prosecution failed to prove "even a single allegation" against them, lawyers said.

    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. "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 Assemanand, told reporters quoting special judge for NIA cases K Ravinder Reddy who delivered the verdict amid tight security.

    Media was barred entry in the courtroom during the pronouncement of the judgement in the high-profile case, dubbed as one of "saffron terror", a term that riled the BJP and Hindu organisations no end.Aseemanand was acquitted last year in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah terror attack. He is an accused in the 2007 Samjhauta blasts case.

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