Twelve years on, no justice for Makkah Masjid victims

It has been twelve years for Makkah Masjid bomb blast and subsequent police firing. During the Friday prayers on 18th May 2007 bomb blast took place at the historic Makkah Masjid of Hyderabad city. Nine people died and more than 50 severely injured in the blast. Within minutes of blast, police opened fire on the people who were helping the injured. Five more people died and many more injured in the police firing. Again within few minutes of bomb blast and police firing, the Hyderabad police officials declared that the blast at Makkah Masjid was carried out by the HuJI militants and also named Shahid Bilal as mastermind behind this blast.

After few days of the blast, a Special Investigation Cell (SIC) was formed and police started picking up Muslim youth from old city that too in plain clothes and without number plate vehicles. Even the youth injured in the blast were not spared, they were also summoned and interrogated as to why did they go to Masjid and what were they doing in the Masjid? Hundreds of Muslim youth were picked up, kept at illegal detention centres in the outskirts of Hyderabad city, inhumanly tortured, abused and pressured to take the responsibility of Makkah Masjid bomb blast and if they do not accept, they would be killed in an encounter. After few days all the detained were released and 29 of them were shown arrested; they were sent to judicial custody, where they were in jail for 6-8 months after which they were released on bail. Though they were picked up in connection with the so-called investigation of Makkah Masjid bomb blast, instead they were implicated in false cases of ‘conspiracy against the State and Asiatic powers’ and other cases.

The Hyderabad police registered two cases, one of the exploded bomb and the other of an unexploded bomb; exploded bomb blast case was handed over to CBI. Police also prepared a confidential report, in which it was mentioned that Muslim community has sect differences among them, and the blast was carried out by the Ahle Hadees sect to teach a lesson to the Sunnat ul Jamaat sect.

The then AP State Minorities Commission had appointed an Advocate General, L Ravichander to look into the torture. He brought out a detailed report saying that third-degree inhuman torture has been inflicted upon the Muslim youth. The State Minorities Commission submitted that report to the state government but it was not made public. The government had also formed a one-man commission namely Justice Bhaskar Rao Commission to look into the indiscriminate police firing on the people after the bomb blast. The police personnel justified the firing by stating that the mob wanted to attack a petrol pump nearby and to control them and in self-defence, police had to start firing. This was again justified by the Bhaskar Rao Commission. Though the report is submitted to the government, it has not been tabled in Assembly for discussion nor has been made public.

To understand Makkah Masjid bomb blast, subsequent police firing and implication of Muslim youth one have to also know about the political conditions of Hyderabad post-bomb blast. Every time in the country when there is some burning issue and the debate happening around it, suddenly something big happens that completely diverts the attention of the people from the serious issue. The same happened in this case as well. Before Makkah Masjid bomb blast took place, the matter of Sohrabuddin encounter was very much in the news and debates as the top police officials, politicians’ involvement was being questioned.

Sheikh Sohrabuddin, Kausar Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati were killed by the Gujarat police with the help of Hyderabad and Rajasthan police in the year 2005. Almost after a year of investigation it was revealed that these three people were killed in cold blood but not in encounter. Few Hyderabad police officers had provided logistical support to the Gujarat police in carrying out encounter of Sohrabuddin. The Supreme Court also questioned “What was the motive of the Andhra Pradesh police to join the conspiracy?”. As the investigation was going deep and many truths were unravelling in connection of Sohrabuddin killing, wherein the state of Gujarat, its police, Rajasthan police and Hyderabad police were being exposed, the Makkah Masjid bomb blast took place which completely diverted the attention of the people, press as well as Judiciary from the Sohrabuddin encounter and the involvement of State of Gujarat, Rajasthan police and Hyderabad police. To hide itself from the involvement of Sohrabuddin encounter, few communal minded police personnel of Hyderabad including IPS officers had woven the stories behind the blast and implicated Muslim youth and tortured them inhumanly.

When the CBI started investigation on the bomb blast case, they came out with the names of real terrorists, i.e. Hindutva terrorists were exposed. Initially CBI filed charge sheet against three persons namely Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma and Sunil Joshi. Later, CBI arrested Aseemanand from Haridwar in the year 2010. Aseemanand and his team carried not just Makkah Masjid bomb blast but also other blasts in the country such as blasts at Ajmer dargah in 2007, Samjhauta Express in 2007 and Malegaon blast in 2006 & 2008 to teach a lesson to the Muslim community. So, CBI was investigating all the blast cases; after these Hindutva terrorists were arrested, the pressure on Muslim youth was lowered and later the court acquitted all the Muslim youth who were implicated in false cases. While in judicial custody in Charlapally jail of Hyderabad, Aseemanand met one of the arrested Muslim youth, Kaleem; he was inspired by Kaleem and his conscious woke up. As part of investigation of all the terror cases, Aseemanand was taken to CBI Headquarters for further investigation; there Aseemanand wanted to confess his crime and got ready to give confessional statement. He recorded his confession in front of a Metropolitan Magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC. The magistrate informed Aseemanand that this confession under 164 CrPC will bring him death sentence and told him to think for two more days about the confession. On December 18, 2010, he told the magistrate in the court, “I know I can be sentenced to the death penalty but I still want to make the confession.” If a person makes a confessional statement under section 164 of CrPC and contradicts himself during the trial, he may be convicted of giving false evidence intentionally.

In the detailed interview given to The Caravan, Aseemanand named RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar. Aseemanand told in the interview that, “Then they (Mohan Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar) told me, ‘Swamiji, if you do this we will be at ease with it. Nothing wrong will happen then. Criminalisation nahin hoga (It will not be criminalised). If you do it, then people won’t say that we did a crime for the sake of committing a crime. It will be connected to the ideology. This is very important for Hindus. Please do this. You have our blessings.’”
The investigation of these blast cases was going on in a proper and right direction by the CBI and then in the year 2011, it was taken over by the NIA (National Investigation Agency) formed in the year 2009 to look into the terror cases. NIA named Aseemanand as mastermind of Makkah Masjid bomb blast and nine others namely Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange and Ramachandra Kalsangra (both former RSS activists who are absconding), Sunil Joshi (murdered in 2007), Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar, Rajender Chowdhary, Tejram Parmar and Amit Chouhan.

NIA Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian was handling the Malegaon bomb blast case. But as soon as BJP came to power in 2014, she was instructed to go soft on the accused Hindutva terrorists, but she did not budge and then without any explanation she was ousted from the case and then the special NIA court acquitted all the 12 accused in Malegaon blast case. At the time when Ms. Salian was asked to go soft, NIA chief Sharad Kumar who is very close to BJP and was to retire in 2015, was given extension. The same happened with Makkah Masjid bomb blast case as well. Pratibha Ambedkar was the officer-in-charge of this case and she was transferred two weeks before the verdict. During the trial at Hyderabad court, 226 witnesses and 411 documents were examined. 65 of them turned hostile, even the police personnel who were to depose before the court also turned hostile. In the course of trial, some important files including Aseemanand’s statements were missing from the court. The prosecution was unable to prove the evidences; this is understood with the bringing in of RSS background special Public prosecutor. One important thing which was mentioned by Ms. Rohini Salian is that the accused in the Malegaon case were made witness in Makkah Masjid bomb blast case, obviously they would turn hostile. Even the Judge played hand in glove with the prosecution by saying that the facts and circumstances of the Metropolitan Magistrate who recorded Aseemanand’s statement does not apply to the case i.e. of confession under Section 164 CrPC and thus keeps it aside. The Judge has noted that, “The conspiracy of all the accused in this case has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution failed to prove the guilt. The five accused are not found guilty for the offences and are acquitted”.

This very important case wherein the Hindutva terrorists were involved in carrying out blasts at various places in the country, all the agencies such as the police, the local state and the central government, the investigating agencies, the Prosecution and even Judiciary failed in providing justice even when all the strong pieces of evidence were present.

Thus, the special NIA court in Hyderabad acquitted the five Hindutva terrorists on 16th April 2018. Out of eight Hindutva terrorists, five are acquitted, one is killed by their own RSS men and two are absconding. After acquitting all the five Hindutva criminals, the judge resigned within few hours of his verdict. This act of his raises many questions on the verdict as well as on the judge itself. There is huge conspiracy behind such kind of judgment and immediate resignation of Judge. People were waiting for the delivery of justice and with such kind of verdict and resignation he tried to shift the debate from the biased judgment towards his resignation. Few people felt that he must have given such kind of judgment under pressure and some others opined that he was under corruption charges so he resigned. So, instead of debate to be taken place on biased verdict, the debate shifted on his resignation.

People lost confidence from the judiciary as well. The last step in getting justice is only the judiciary and when judiciary also plays hands in glove with the criminals and perpetrators, what saves this country from! Now all the Hindutva terrorists are free, some are out on bail and some are acquitted. Only the criminals would be ruling the country and the constitution is great danger in such situations.

Courtesy: Two Circles



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