After Mecca Masjid verdict, here’s where 6 other right-wing terror cases stand

New Delhi—A National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Monday acquitted all five accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case.

The case has brought the focus back on the so called Hindu right-wing terror cases.

The NIA was asked to probe seven such cases – blasts in Maharashtra’s Malegaon in 2006, the attack on Samjhauta Express in 2006, explosions at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif in 2007, blasts at Malegaon and Modasa in 2008 and the murder of former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak Sunil Joshi.

Three cases — the Joshi murder, Modasa blast and Ajmer Sharif blast — have already been concluded. The Mecca Masjid blast case is the fourth among the Hindu terror cases where the trial has concluded.

Here is their status as of now:

Malegaon blasts in 2006

Four blasts outside a mosque in Malegaon, a town in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, killed 38 people on September 8, 2006.

The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charge-sheeted nine Muslims. The NIA took over the case in 2011 and filed a charge sheet against alleged Hindu extremists in the case paving the way for the release of the Muslims accused on bail. The trial is yet to begin.

Samjahuta Express blasts in 2007

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) kept in the moving Samjhauta Express exploded near Dewana railway station in Haryana’s Panipat district on February 18, 2007. The explosion killed 68 people, most of whom were Pakistanis going back home on the train going to Lahore from Delhi.

The NIA has filed charges against Hindu extremists in the case. The trial is on.

Blast at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid in 2007

A powerful IED blast at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad killed nine people and injured 58 others during Friday prayers on May 18, 2007. Five others were killed in police firing in the violence that followed immediately after the blast.

The Hyderabad Police rounded up dozens of Muslims but could not get any breakthrough. The case was then handed over to CBI, which arrested Swami Aseemanand, the alleged patron of the Sunil Joshi-led group. The first charge sheet was filed by CBI and the case then handed over to NIA for further probe. Trial concluded. Case slated for judgement on Monday.

Ajmer Dargah blast in 2007

A blast on October 11, 2007, during Ramzan at the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah in Rajasthan’s Ajmer, killed three people and left around a dozen injured.Three more bombs were later recovered from the premises.

Of the 13 accused, three are absconding and another – Sunil Joshi — is dead. The trial against nine accused ended up in the conviction of only three — Sunil Joshi, Devendra Gupta and Bhavesh Patel. Seven accused, including Aseemanand, who was once termed as an alleged Hindu terror ideologue, have been acquitted. Gupta and Patel were sentenced to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively.

Sunil Joshi murder case

Joshi was shot dead on December 29, 2007, while walking back to his hideout at Chuna Khadan locality in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. He was the leader of an alleged Hindu extremist group consisting of Pragya Singh Thakur, Lokesh Sharma, Sandeep Dange, Ramji Kalsangra, Rajendra Pehelwan, Dhan Singh, Amit Chauhan and Aseemanand. Besides Aseemanand, many others helped Joshi fund his group.

According to the NIA probe, the group was behind most of the right-wing terror cases.

After completing the investigation in the Joshi murder case, the NIA handed over the case to the Madhya Pradesh police saying it had not found any evidence to suggest that his murder was linked to the larger Hindu terror conspiracy.

The agency alleged that Joshi was killed by his own men as they were unhappy over his alleged “misbehaviour” with another accused Pragya Singh Thakur. The trial ended on February 1, 2017, and all the eight accused, including Pragya Singh Thakur, were acquitted.

Malegaon and Modasa blasts

Twin blasts in Maharashtra’s Malegaon and Modasa in Gujarat took place on September 29, 2008, during Ramzan and a day ahead of Hindu festival of Shivratri. Improvised Explosive Devices mounted on motorcycles were planted at both locations killing eight people.

The Maharashtra Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad said it had cracked the Malegaon case and Pragya Singh Thakur and a serving Indian Army official Prasad Srikant Purohit were arrested and charge-sheeted in the case.

The NIA later dropped charges against Pragya Singh Thakur and the special court is yet to take a call on it. The Modasa blast case was closed by NIA citing lack of evidence.

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