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An Unfortunate Verdict

An Unfortunate Verdict

The Makkah Masjid blast occurred on May 18, 2007 at 1.15 inside the historically famous Makkah Masjid in Hyderabad during the Friday prayers killing nine people and injuring 58.

All the five accused in the case have been acquitted by the Special anti-terror court in Hyderabad on Monday. This has pushed into despair and apprehension not only the families of the victims but all lovers of humanity who desire law, order and justice to prevail in the country. Judge K Ravinder Reddy who delivered the verdict, dramatically resigned hours after pronouncing the judgement and its reason remains mysteriously unknown. Serious doubts have now been cast on the unbiased functioning, efficiency and independence of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The persons acquitted namely Swami Aseemananda, Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar and Rajender Chowdhary, are supporters of Abhinav Bharat, the hardline Hindutwa face of Sangh Parivar. The circumstances are such that the remarks of the Congress that the credibility of NIA has been lost, do not allow one to see the statements as mere politics. When Congress leaders in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad points out that the acquittal has been happening in each case after BJP came to power, there are facts to support it.

The NIA Special Court had in 2017 acquitted six persons including Swami Aseemananda who were accused in the 2007 Ajmer bomb blast on the benefit of doubt. The judgement on the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast case which killed 68 people is yet to come. Aseemananda is an accused in that case as well. Malegaon, Makkah Masjid, Samjhauta Express and Ajmer bomb blast cases are all of similar nature. The police and the investigation agencies out of prejudice register cases against more than one Muslim extremist outfits irrespective of whether they exist or not, implicating some by fabricating evidences. No sooner is this heard than the media on the other hand, spread the news as supreme truth. In the cases that prolong indefinitely, it is after years of lengthy trials and verdicts that many are proved innocent and get released. About 37 people lost their lives in the Malegaon blast case on September 8, 2006. Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) investigated the case and registered a case against seven persons. Former SIMI activists and two Pakistanis were the accused in the case. It was only later during the investigation by the NIA and CBI team which took over the case, that the shocking truth came to light: that the hardcore Hindutva brigade of Abhinav Bharat was behind the explosions and it was the outcome of a planned move by a terror group including Colonel Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya to trap the innocent Muslims. Swami Aseemananda confessed to the crime, though he changed his statements later. Initially it was Muslim youth who were arrested in the Makkah Masjid blast as well. Following the revelations by Aseemananda, a re-investigation was carried out and those arrested were acquitted after finding them innocent.

The scenario was already clear when the former public prosecutor for Malegaon explosion case, Rohini Salian disclosed that after Modi government assumed office, an NIA official had, on behalf of the government, asked them to take a soft approach in cases where Hindutva extremists were accused. As for the CBI, even earlier there were charges that the agency, controlled by prime minister's office, was neither impartial nor independent. And the NIA is far from being perceived as bold or honest. When it came under the BJP government, NIA’s credibility has been further eroded. While on the one hand, loyalty to RSS alone becomes the eligibility for even constitutional offices, on the other hand the Sangh parivar uses everything in its armour to derail investigations and conduct of cases. The present situation is such that even judges are raising doubts about judiciary's very adherence to fairness. If the weakest sections of the country such as women, Dalits and adivasis are the victims of this helpless situation, the Muslim minority are victim to deep prejudice and suspicion as well. These are trends that run counter to a healthy democratic order and judicial system. But it would be futile, if we try to remind the existing rulers driven by extremely totalitarian concepts about this. It is for the real patriots who wish to see the existence of the country's noble secular, democratic tradition, to rise to the occasion. And the Telengana government should not dither at all in filing appeal against the verdict in the Makkah masjid blast case.

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