Hyderabad: The old city of Hyderabad, home to most of the victims of the blast in the Makkah Masjid 11 years ago, was enveloped in shock and anger over the NIA special court’s verdict acquitting the five accused belonging to the right wing Hindu groups.
Several Muslim organisations including the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen have called for a public meeting on Wednesday evening to lodge their protest and demand a retrial of the case.
The most angry and distraught were the families of the nine people who were killed in the blast during the Friday congregation on May 18, 2007.
Equally shocked were those hundred odd Muslim youth and their families who were rounded up by the Hyderabad city police soon after the blast and were subjected to third degree torture to force them to confess their involvement.
“My only question is that if these people were innocent then who planted the bombs in the mosque? Who are the terrorist behind this dastardly act”, was how Riyaz Khan summed up the feeling in a choked voice. He lost his two family members- father Yousf Khan and brother in law Shafiur Rahman in the blast.
NIA Special Court judge Ravinder Reddy had acquitted the five accused including former RSS member Swamy Aseemanand saying the National Investigation Agency had failed to prove the charges against them.
“I have completely lost my faith in the judiciary. First they dragged the case for so many years and finally nothing came out of it. The accused were acquitted despite the fact that some of them had confessed their crime”, said Saddam Hussain, whose two brothers were injured in the blast.
Shoaib Jagirdar, a resident of Jalna in neighbouring Maharashtra was among the 100 odd people picked up by the police. Jagridar who had to spent seven months in jail recalled the horrendous days when he was subjected to third degree torture, said, “I still get nightmare remembering those days. I and many others like me were falsely implicated in the case. Police tried to extract confession that we carried out the blast. It was unthinkable. Worse was the situation of my family who were subjected to social boycott”, he said.
His nephew Imran Khan who was also arrested and tortured said that his life never returned to normality. “For me it was important that the real culprits were caught and punished. But now the court judgement has left me in deep shock”.
But at least some of the victims foresaw the acquittal as imminent. “I had lost hope the day the accused in Ajmer Dargah blast were acquitted”, said Mohammed Ateeq whose father was injured in the blast and was still bedridden.
Many prominent lawyers and activists have also joined the demand for a retrial of the case. Khalid Saifullah, a senior lawyer based in the old city said the acquittal was the result of the biased and unfair attitude of the NIA officials and prosecutors. “It was shocking that as many 50 witnesses turned hostile. Such an important case was dealt with like an ordinary and minor case dragging the proceedings for so many years”, he said demanding that a retrial should be conducted like in many other sensitive cases.
Shafeeq Mohajir, who had appeared before a judicial commission during the inquiry into the police firing on Muslim protesters soon after the blast killing five people said that NIA had utterly failed in its job. “they failed to provide material evidence and satisfy the courts”, he said.
But on the other hand defence counsel JP Sharma said that five accused were charged as part of a political conspiracy by the then UPA government. “It was a bogus story created to divide the people. This is the victory of truth. Justice is prevailed”, he said.
The situation in Hyderabad was tense but peaceful after the judgement as elaborate security arrangements were made in the old city. 1500 policemen were deployed at the sensitive spots.
Darsgah-e-Jihad-o-Shahdat, a small organisation based in the old city tried to take out a protest march against the verdict and burnt the effigy of “Hindutva”. The police however took them into custody.