Acquitted in two cases, Aseemanand still faces Samjhauta case trial

Acquitted in two cases, Aseemanand still faces Samjhauta case trial

Though there were a total of 10 accused in the case, only five were charge-sheeted by the NIA. Sunil Joshi, a prime accused, was shot dead by unidentified persons in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, on December 29, 2007, while key witness Lt Col Shrikant Purohit was declared hostile in February 2018.

On 18 May 2007, a pipe-bomb exploded at the Mecca Masjid near Charminar in Hyderabad during Friday prayers killing 9 and injuring 58 others. Only five accused faced trial as two are still absconders. He is now on bail in 2014 Samjhauta Express blast case.

During last 11 years the case saw many twists and turns starting with the initial investigation by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Hyderabad city police which suspecting the involvement of Muslim groups had arrested 100 local youths.

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The NIA is yet to examine the judgment and once this is done it would find out how the case weakened.

Sandeep V Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, who were also accused in the incident, are absconding. The NIA officer in charge of the case, Pratibha Ambedkar, was abruptly removed two weeks ago.

A special NIA court on Monday acquitted five people in connection with Mecca Masjid blast case.

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The court cited lack of evidence while pronouncing the acquittal of the accused.

Fifth, a prime accused Aseemanand, who had also been acquitted in Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast case past year due to lack of evidence, turned hostile.

Sixth, and finally, the argument that since the chargesheet was prepared under Congress-led UP and hence the BJP government could not be accused of trying to influence prosecution does not wash. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Congress of defaming Hindu religion by coining the term and demanded an apology from Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

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According to Aseemanand's counsel J.P. Sharma, the court ruled his client had made his alleged confession, on which the case was based, under duress. More than 200 witnesses were grilled and 400 documents were submitted to the court. He retracted his confessional statement with the claim that it was extracted under duress. "On 12 June, he approached me for the second time and said I would no longer be appearing in the case", Salian was quoted as saying in June 2015.

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