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All 5 accused in 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case acquitted

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meeca msjid blast
Swami Aseemanand and other accused in the 2007 Makkah Masjid bomb blast case, walks out of court premises in Hyderabad on April 16, 2018.

Hyderabad, April 16: Eleven years after a powerful explosion killed nine people and injured over 50 during Friday prayers near the iconic Charminar here, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court here on Monday acquitted all five accused in the Makkah Masjid case.

A lawyer for one of the accused told reporters outside the Nampally criminal court complex that the court held that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges.

Hindu right-wing group Abhinav Bharat members Nabakumar Sarkar alias Swamy Aseemanand, Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai and Rajender Chowdhary, who were charged by the NIA, were all acquitted.

The explosion ripped through the mosque on May 18, 2007. Two live IEDs were also recovered by police and defused. Later, five more people were killed in subsequent police firing on a crowd outside the mosque.

There were a total of eight accused in the case. One, Sunil Joshi, a RSS pracharak, was murdered during the course of investigation. Two other accused, Sandeep V. Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, both RSS activists, still elude the investigators.

Monday’s judgement was about five accused who were chargesheeted by NIA.

A total of three chargesheets were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the NIA in the sensational case that took many twists and turns.

The city police, which initially took up investigation, blamed Harkatul Jihad Islami and rounded up about 100 Muslim youths. All those arrested and jailed were acquitted in 2008 and the subsequent investigations by the CBI in 2010 revealed that the blast was the handiwork of Hindu rightwing group Abhinav Bharat. The case was handed over to NIA on April 4, 2011.

The fact-finding committee of the National Minorities Commission found that the innocent youth were arrested on charges of terrorism and police kept them in illegal confinement and tortured them.

In 2012, the government of then united Andhra Pradesh paid a compensation of Rs.3 lakh each to 26 people who were acquitted and Rs 20,000 each to 50 people others were let off the police after questioning.

According to the chargesheet, the accused were “angered by terrorist attacks committed on Hindus and their temples” and conspired to “avenge” such acts with attacks on Muslim places of worship and places densely populated by Muslims.

The chargesheet also mentioned that Aseemanand made a confessional statement before a metropolitan magistrate in Delhi.

He had allegedly disclosed the conspiracy behind the bomb blasts in different places, including Makkah Masjid. Aseemanand allegedly retracted the statement later.

Aseemanand was first arrested by the CBI in 2010 but was granted conditional bail in 2017 in the case. He was earlier acquitted in Ajmer Dargah blast case and also got bail in the Samjhauta Express blast case of 2014.

IANS

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Karnataka by-polls : Congress-JDS to jointly campaign

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Bengaluru, Oct 20 :Reaffirming its coalition government alliance, the ruling Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) would jointly campaign for the five by-elections in Karnataka on November 3, said leaders of both parties on Saturday.

“As the BJP is our common rival, we have decided to have common candidates for all the 5 by-elections to avoid splitting votes and jointly campaign to defeat the opposition contestants,” said Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah here.

At a joint press conference with JD-S supreme H.D. Deve Gowda, its Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara of the Congress, Siddaramaiah said leaders of both the parties would campaign for the candidates of both the parties to ensure their victory in all the seats.

By-elections are being held in three Lok Sabha constituencies and two assembly segments in the state to fill vacancies caused by the resignation of the sitting lawmakers in four seats and in one due to death of a sitting Congress legislator.

The three Lok Sabha seats are in Ballari (Scheduled Tribes), Mandya and Shimoga and the two assembly seats in Ramanagara and Jamkhandi.

The JD-S is contesting in Mandya and Shimoga and in Ramanagara, while the Congress has fielded candidates in Ballari (reserved) and Jamkhandi in the state’s northwest region. Counting of votes is on November 6.

“Though we fought against each other in the May 12 assembly election, a hung verdict on May 16 forced us to come together and form the coalition government for keeping the BJP out of power,” admitted Siddaramaiah.

Endorsing Siddaramaiah’s view, Gowda said both the parties have decided to extend their alliance to the Lok Sabha elections in early 2019 and field common candidates in all the 28 parliamentary seats in the southern state.

“As the common goal is to defeat the BJP, we will have a seat-sharing agreement to field respective candidates where the parties are stronger across the state,” said Gowda.

BJP’s state unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa and its party’s member B. Sriramulu resigned from Shimoga and Ballari Lok Sabha seats after they were elected to the assembly from Shikaripura in Shimoga district and Molakalmuru (ST) in Chitradurga district.

Similarly, JD-S member S. Puttaraju resigned from Mandya after he was elected to the assembly from Melukote in Mandya district in the old Mysuru region. He is also Minister for Minor Irrigation in the coalition government.

Congress legislator Siddu Nyamagouda died in a road mishap on May 28 in Bagalkot district. He was re-elected from Jamkhandi assembly seat in the state’s northwest.

Kumaraswamy, who contested and won from the adjacent Channapatna and Ramanagara assembly seats, retained the former and resigned from the latter.

Asserting that there was harmony and understanding between the alliance partners on all issues, Kumaraswamy said the coalition government would complete its 5-year term and both the parties would contest assembly and parliamentary elections jointly to protect the secular character of the state and prevent communal forces like the BJP from coming to power.

The Congress has fielded its legislative council member V.S. Ugrappa in Ballari and Nyamagouda’s son Anand Siddu from Jamkhandi, while L.R. Shivarama Gowda is contesting from Mandya, Madhu Bangarappa from Shimoga and Anitha Kumaraswamy from Ramangara.

The BJP has fielded Sriramulu’s sister B. Shanta from Ballari, Yeddyurappa’s son B.Y. Raghavendra from Shimoga, Siddaramaiah from Mandya, Srikant Kulkarni from Jamkhandi and L. Chandrashekar from Ramanagara.(IANS)

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Attacks on UP, Bihar migrants in Gujarat: Congress leader slaps legal notice on CM

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Ahmedabad, Oct 20 :Senior Gujarat leader Shaktisinh Gohil has slapped a legal notice of criminal and civil proceedings on Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani for “politically motivated” charges of engineering attacks on north Indian migrant workers in the state.

In the legal notice issued October 18, Gohil pointed to Rupani’s statements before the media in Uttar Pradesh accusing him of instigating attacks on the north Indian workers, who were forced to flee Gujarat recently, and stated that it was BJP leaders and workers who were responsible for workers’ migration.

The Congress leader, who is also party’s Bihar in-charge as well as a spokesperson, told Rupani that, “As the Chief Minister, it is your duty to maintain law and order in Gujarat. Instead of making politically motivated statement against me in Uttar Pradesh, you should have taken action against me by filing an FIR.”

Gohil said the government could not file an FIR against him or arrest him for it did not have any evidence of his involvement in the incidents.

Gohil also accused another BJP MLA from Prantij, Gajendrasinh, of taking out rallies and instigating crowds, besides youth BJP leader Vikas Patel and others running social media campaigns through Facebook and others.

The Congress leader said he was sending audio and video evidence to establish that BJP leaders and workers were responsible for the attacks. “I was not even there in Gujarat during the attacks and was in Bihar,” Gohil said, adding that immediately on hearing about the incidents, he condemned them and appealed for peace.

Calling the Chief Minister’s statements against him as a “deliberate attempt to tarnish my image to cause great political and social damage”, he demanded that Rupani should publicly express his regrets for those allegations within two weeks.

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CWC monitoring Brahmaputra, Siang rivers

Meanwhile, the Inland Water Transport (IWT) department in Assam has suspended the ferry service in Dibrugarh district following the inputs and advisory from the Chinese government.

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Yarlung zangbo

Guwahati, Oct 20 (IANS) Central Water Commission (CWC) officials are closely monitoring the water levels in the Brahmaputra and Siang following fears about sudden bursting of an artificial lake formed by a landslide on the Tibetan side a few days ago.

China has informed India that the landslide has blocked the Milin Section of the mainstream of the Yarlung Zangbo river in Tibet. The river is known as Siang and Brahmaputra in India.

The blocking of the main stream of the Yarlung Zangbo triggered apprehension that the downstream areas of the river in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh might see a sudden spurt in water levels.

Although the water level of the Siang showed an increase at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday night, the water level showed a decreasing trend on Saturday.

“There is no substantial increase in the water level of Siang and Brahmaputra rivers in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. However, we are closely monitoring the situation as flow of water might take some more time to reach Tuting,” said a senior official of the CWC based in Dibrugarh district of Assam.

Dibrugarh houses the Upper Brahmaputra division of the CWC, which monitors the developments that takes place in Arunachal Pradesh and further upstream.

“Last night we recorded the water level at 418.65 meters at Tuting. Today it has decreased to 406.50 meters there, which is normal. The Brahmaputra level is normal so far,” said a senior CWC official.

Meanwhile, the Inland Water Transport (IWT) department in Assam has suspended the ferry service in Dibrugarh district following the inputs and advisory from the Chinese government.

“We have suspended the ferry service in Dibrugarh as Dibrugarh is the first point for the waters to enter Brahmaputra river. There is no report of any significant increase in the water level. However, as a precautionary measure, we have suspended the ferry service in the district,” said Bharat Bhushan Choudhury, Director of the IWT, Assam.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday night said NDRF companies have already reached the state and are being deployed in sensitive districts. He has also asked the disaster management authorities in Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts to remain alert for flash flood-like situation.

The Arunachal Pradesh government had also instructed and alerted all the districts located near Siang which might be affected due to the water flow of the river in the near future.

The government has asked the people not to venture out in the Siang for the next 48 hours time.

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