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Judge Quits Soon After Acquitting Five In Mecca Masjid Blast Case

Swami Aseemanand among those acquitted

Hyderabad’s special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court judge K Ravinder Reddy stunned everyone by resigning on Monday, hours after he acquitted all five men, including Swami Aseemanand, in the high-profile Mecca Masjid blast case, the PTI has reported.

Nine people were killed and 58 hurt when a pipe bomb ripped through the historic mosque in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007. Five others had been killed later as police opened fire to quell a rioting mob.

“Speculation was rife about the possible reasons behind Mr. Reddy’s reported resignation as it coincided with the pronouncement of the verdict in the blast case,” The Hindu report said. “Sources in the bar association said the AMSJ [Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge] had cited non-bifurcation of the Hyderabad High Court and allotment of judges to the two States as reasons for his resignation. During the agitation for a separate Telangana State, lawyers and some judicial officers had joined the movement. Mr. Reddy was among 11 judicial officers suspended then. After formation of the State, he took out a procession from Abids to Raj Bhavan over bifurcation of the Hyderabad High Court and allotment of judges to the two Telugu States.”

Reddy handed over his resignation to the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court. He cited personal reasons for his resignation and said it had nothing to do with Monday’s judgment. He said he had been considering resigning for quite some time, a judicial official told news agency PTI.

The others who were acquitted in the 11-year-old case because of lack of evidence were a former RSS worker from Rajasthan, Devendra Gupta, two former RSS workers from Madhya Pradesh, Lokesh Sharma and Rajender Chowdhary, besides Aseemanand’s alleged associate Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar.

Aseemanand and Rateshwar are already out on bail, while three others are in jail.

The court held that none of the charges framed against the accused were proved. Police sounded an alert in Hyderabad and stepped up security, as the verdict also triggered a political slugfest.

NIA said all the accused belonged to a group of Hindu extremists led by RSS worker Sunil Joshi who was shot dead on December 29, 2007, in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas town.

Former RSS worker Sandeep Dange, RSS activist Ramachandra Kalsangra and electrician Amit Chouhan are absconding.

Aseemanand was acquitted last year in the 2007 bombing of the Ajmer shrine in Rajasthan. He is being tried on charges of involvement in the bomb attack on Samjhauta Express train in 2007.

NIA said it will examine the judgment and decide further course of action.

Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi said justice has not been done and that NIA has been malicious and biased. “Judge who gave acquittal to all accused in Mecca Masjid Blast resigns. Very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship’s decision,” he tweeted.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said in Delhi that after the court’s verdict Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi should apologise for using terms such as saffron terror and Hindu terror.

(With PTI inputs)

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