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Mecca Masjid verdict: Asaduddin Owaisi says justice has not been done

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India Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen president Asaduddin Owaisi addressing the media in Hyderabad last year. Owaisi has claimed that many witnesses in the Mecca Masjid blast case turned hostile after 2014 when the BJP came to power

The NIA took over the case in 2011.

- A special NIA court in Namapally acquits all accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case. An accused named Sunil Joshi, an RSS activist from Madhya Pradesh, was murdered on December 29, 2007 during the course of investigation. "We still have faith in our agencies and hope the real culprits are caught", said Mohammad Irfan, the man who spotted the second bomb at Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid and reported it to the bomb squad.

The five who faced trial included Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohan Lal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Choudhary. The accused are related to a radical Hindu organisation called Abhinav Bharat whose members allegedly have ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The Hyderabad city police picked up a few Muslim youth on this line of investigation and allegedly tortured them for days and wrongly imprisoned them, before they were later acquitted by the court. After the initial investigation by local police, the case was transferred to the CBI.

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Citing lack of evidence, the court said that the investigation agency had failed to prove anyone's guilt.

Reacting to the court verdict, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that the Congress has long "defamed" Hindus for votes and demanded that party president Rahul Gandhi and his predecessor Sonia Gandhi apologise for terms such as "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror". Swami Aseemanand, the key accused in the case, was acquitted by a Special NIA court on March 8, 2017.

Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar and Rajender Choudhary are the other accused, who are also in custody. He was earlier acquitted in Ajmer Dargah blast case and also got bail in the Samjhauta Express blast case of 2014.

A total of 226 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents exhibited. Elaborate security arrangements have been made by the police in and around the court premises for the big verdict.

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