Hyderabad: A few hours after delivering the verdict in the Mecca Masjid blast case, where all the accused facing trial were acquitted for lack of strong evidence and the prosecution’s failure to prove any of the charges, special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court judge Ravinder Reddy on Monday resigned his post. He has sent his resignation letter to the Metropolitan Sessions Judge and Chief Justice of High Court. The letter cites personal reasons for the resignation.
Reddy was the fourth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge and Judge of NIA Court at Nampally Court Complex.
Earlier today, Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary were acquitted by the Special NIA Court.
Two other accused, Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, are absconding while another accused, Sunil Joshi was found shot dead under mysterious circumstances in Dewas on 29 December 2007.
The authority had put in place a three-tier security near the court complex before the pronouncement of the verdict this morning.
Judge Ravinder Reddy said in his order that the accused had been acquitted because the NIA had failed to establish their role in the attack of 2007.
“The court noted that the prosecution could not prove its case; no evidence was presented to prove the conspiracy. Five accused who were arrested have been acquitted by the court today,’’ defence lawyer B Rajvardhan Reddy said.
“The judge in his order observed that not a single allegation made by the prosecution could be proved, and hence he declared all the accused acquitted,” said JP Sharma, the defence advocate.
On 18 May 2007, the bomb at the historic Mecca Masjid during Friday prayers had killed nine people and left 58 others injured. After the initial investigation by the local police, the case was transferred to CBI, which filed a charge-sheet. Subsequently, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the case from the CBI in 2011.
Ten persons allegedly belonging to right-wing organisations were named as accused in the case. [Related editorial]
However, only five of them — Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand alias Naba Kumar Sarkar, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajendra Chowdhary — who were arrested had faced trial in the case.
Two other accused — Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra — are absconding while one of them, Sunil Joshi, a former RSS member like Aseemanand, was shot dead.
A total of 226 witnesses were examined during the trial and as many as 411 documents exhibited.
The BJP on Monday latched on to the opportunity presented by the NIA court judgment to taunt the INC. It said it had been proved there was “no such thing as saffron terror”. The term was used in 2010 by then home minister P Chidambaram of the Congress and in 2013 by the then home minister of the same government, Sushilkumar Shinde.
A Wikileaks document showed Rahul Gandhi, the then vice president of the INC and now its president, had used the term, too. However, the INC today tried to put up a brave face by denying the public records to say neither its president Rahul Gandhi nor any other party leader ever used the term “saffron terror”.
Meanwhile, the authority has issued a security alert in Hyderabad. The police have stepped up vigil to prevent any untoward incident in the wake of the judgment.
The authority has deployed over 1,500 personnel from different wings of the Hyderabad City Police at strategic locations in the Old City, a source in the police department informed.
“An alert has been sounded and it is continuing…Our watch is on the entire city and we are monitoring through CCTV cameras installed across the city. Elaborate security arrangements are in place,” the official said.