On May 18, 2007, a pipe bomb ripped through the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, killing eight people on the spot. Five others were killed as police opened fire to quell a rioting mob. An NIA court Monday acquitted all the accused due to lack of evidence against them in the blast case, in which as many as 226 witnesses were questioned and 411 documents examined.
Hyderabad Police had detained at least 38 Muslim youths on suspicion of being involved in the planning and execution of the blast. The case was first registered at Hussaini Alam Police Station.
Here is a brief timeline of the case:
June 9, 2007: The case is handed over to CBI
December 29, 2007: Key accused and RSS functionary Sunil Joshi is shot by unknown persons in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.
November 19, 2010: Swami Aseemanand is arrested in connection with the Mecca Masjid blast. The same year, senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, a close associate of main accused Sunil Joshi, was questioned by the CBI after his name cropped up during probe in the blast case.
April 7, 2011: The NIA takes over the case.
The trial is going on in the IV Additional Metropolitan Session Court, a special NIA court, at Nampally court complex. The CBI and NIA filed charge sheets against 10 accused, all members of Abhinav Bharat, including Nabakumar Sirkar alias Swami Aseemanand; Devender Gupta; Lokesh Sharma alias Ajay Tiwari, Lakshman Das Maharaj, Mohanlal Rateshwar and Rajender Chowdhary. Two accused, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, are still shown as absconding.
During the trial, the prosecution led by NIA’s Chief Public Prosecutor N Harinath, examined 226 listed witnesses.
March 23, 2017: Swami Aseemanand granted bail. While the NIA was investigating the case, Aseemanand gave a signed declaration that he, and several members of Abhinav Bharat, had conspired and executed the bomb blast at Mecca Masjid.
February 14, 2018: During examination 64 of them, including Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, turned hostile on February 14. Purohit claimed that his statement was never recorded, either by the CBI or NIA. NIA’s Special Public Prosecutor N Harinath told The Indian Express that Purohit was listed as witness to identify Swami Aseemanand, Sunil Joshi, Devendra Gupta and other accused, and prove that Aseemanand called him after the murder of Joshi, an accused in Ajmer Dargah blast case.
April 16, 2018: NIA court acquits all accused due to lack of evidence.