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Protecting terrorists: at what cost

The NIA Court in Hyderabad has acquitted all the five persons accused in 2007-Makka Masjid blast case. The judge said he had carefully examined documents, material evidence placed on record and declared none of the allegations could be proved against any of the accused, “hence, all five accused stand acquitted”. Without casting any aspersion on the court verdict, a very pertinent question should not elude common minds. Then who planted the bomb and who killed the people. At least eight people had died and 58 others injured when the bomb blast was triggered during Friday prayers. It can’t be that the people will die and nobody would be responsible. As rightly put by senior Muslim leader AssaduddinOwaisi that the NIA bungled the case by not pursuing it in the court with all the evidence required to get the accused convicted. The NIA’s lackadaisical approach towards the case could be understood by the fact that 10 people were made accused in the case by NIA but only five persons—head of VanvasiKalyan Ashram Swami Aseemanand, RSS vibaghpracharakDevendra Gupta, RSS karyakartaLokesh Sharma, member of Hindu VicharManch, BharathMohanlalRateshwar and RajendarChowdary, a farmer went under trial. Other accused, SandeepDange, RamchandraKalsangara and AmitChouhan are on the run while key accused Sunil Joshi was murdered. The chargesheet is yet to be filed by NIA against one accused, Tejaram, who is out on bail. The NIA had nabbed RajendharChowdary, a 35-yearold farmer, and TejramParmar, a 31-year-old mason, for allegedly planting bombs at the historic mosque on May 18, 2007. Later, the NIA did not even include Parmar’s name in the chargesheet and Rajendhar was acquitted. Even more importantly SwamyAseemanand had confessed before the Tis Hazari court in New Delhi in 2010, stating that he was involved in the execution of bombing at Mecca Masjid. In his confessional statement, Aseemanand had even named one Muslim youth Abdul Kaleem as the reason for his atonement. During his stay in Chanchalguda jail in Hyderabad in connection with the case, he got in touch with Kaleem, who had been jailed and tortured in the past in the same case. “His innocence changed my mind and prompted me to confess my crime,” he reportedly said in the statement. Soon after the blast, the Hyderabad police arrested 90 Muslim youth from different parts of the old city of Hyderabad, suspecting their involvement in the incident. The Central Bureau of Investigation did a parallel probe into the role of the suspected Muslim youth. The police filed charge-sheet against 21 Muslim youth, but failed to produce any evidence about their involvement. As a result, all of them got acquitted in January 2009. It was in fact Maharashtra state’s Anti Terror Squad (ATS) chief HemantKarkare who discovered the Hindu terrorists’ link with the Makka Masjid blast. HemantKarkare was killed during 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Former home minister Susheel Kumar Shinde is on record to have admitted rise of Hindu terrorism in India. Shinde said in no uncertain terms that RSS and BJP were promoting Hindu terrorism in India. However, with BJP’s rise to power in 2014, the policy towards Hindu terrorists drastically changed and investigating agencies were asked to go slow. RohiniSalian, Special Public Prosecutor in the case related to the Malegaon 2008 blasts said that since the BJP government came to power she had been under pressure from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go “soft” in the case. It is anybody’s guess that protecting terrorists or sympathizing with them, more so, at government level shall have disastrous consequences for the country. It would not only encourage them to re-take to their nefarious activities but would also attract other unscrupulous elements to such activities. India is a secular democracy and tolerance is the mainstay of it. If extremist elements are let free to have their way, it would affect the whole edifice of the country. BJP-led government at the centre must understand the dangers impending in such moves. The secular sections in the country should come forward and take the lead to frustrate the designs of putting India on extremist course.