The special NIA court judge of Hyderabad K Ravinder Reddy today resigned, barely hours after acquitting the five accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case, a senior judicial officer said.
Reddy handed over his resignation to the Metropolitan Sessions Judge. Reddy cited personal reasons for his resignation and said it had nothing to do with today's judgement. In fact, he said, he was considering resigning for quite some time, the official told PTI.
Swami Aseemanand, a saffron-robed monk whzo has been linked to three terror attacks, was among five men acquitted today in the 2007 blast in Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid.
Nine people were killed and over 50 injured when the blast ripped through the historic mosque during Friday prayers on May 18 that year. It took a few minutes for the 11-year-old case to come crashing down as a court said the country's top anti-terror body, the NIA, had failed to prove anyone's guilt. The NIA officer in charge of the case, Pratibha Ambedkar, was abruptly removed two weeks ago.
Reacting to the judge's resignation, Hyderabad MP and AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said his decision was 'intriguing'.
"Judge who gave acquittal to all accused in Mecca Masjid Blast RESIGNS very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship decision," Owaisi tweeted.
Judge who gave acquittal to all accused in Mecca Masjid Blast RESIGNS very intriguing and I am surprised with the Lordship decision— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) April 16, 2018
The acquittals of five accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case today prompted the Congress to question the functioning of the National Investigation Agency under the Modi government, but the BJP asserted that the court's decision had exposed the opposition party's politics of "defaming" Hindus for votes.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the accused in such cases had been acquitted ever since the BJP-led NDA government was formed four years ago, and claimed that people were losing faith in investigation agencies.
Hyderabad MP and AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi said justice was not done in the case and accused the premier investigation agency NIA of not pursuing the case properly.
The BJP, however, latched on to the verdict to fire a fresh salvo against the Congress for the use of terms such as "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror" by its senior leaders and former Union home ministers P Chidambaram and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Its spokesperson Sambit Patra accused Congress leaders of practising "politics of appeasement" in their stand on the court's verdict and wondered what the UPA government did in its over seven years of rule following the blast.
"For its appeasement politics, the Congress targeted and defamed Hindus and the country for merely some votes. That conspiracy has been exposed. The Congress has been unmasked and exposed like never before," Patra said.
Patra demanded that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his predecessor Sonia Gandhi apologise for defaming Hindus if they had an "iota of intimacy" with the country. He alleged that the opposition party's leaders had learnt to target the community from them.
He said people would teach the Congress "a lesson" in the Karnataka Assembly polls as they had in the 2014 Lok Sabha election when it was reduced to 44 seats. Hitting back at the Congress leaders for blaming the BJP government for the acquittals of the accused, he alleged that the opposition party adopted "double standards", as it had welcomed a court order in favour of the accused in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case, involving leaders of the Congress's allies, officials and businessmen.
Patra also noted that the Congress was in power for seven years after the blasts and asked what it had done during the period.
When asked about the verdict, former Union home minister and Congress leader Shivraj Patil said, "I find it very difficult to say whether this is wrong or correct."
He said he was not aware of the nature of charge sheet filed by the probe agency, statements made by the witnesses and the cross-examination done by the prosecution.
Patra raked up comments of several Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi's remarks reportedly quoted in a US diplomatic cable in which he had said that radicalised Hindu groups posed a bigger danger to the country.
The BJP leader noted that then home minister Shinde had used the term "saffron terror" and "Hindu terror" in his address at a 2013 Congress conclave in Jaipur in which then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were present.
Shinde had used the dais to abuse Hindus, he alleged, claiming that the Congress had been targeting Hindus for years.
Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi, Patra wondered if the Congress president would lead a candle march to India Gate and apologise for his attempts to "defame" a religion.
He quoted a former home ministry official, R V S Mani, saying that files used to be doctored under the UPA government to prove charges of "saffron terror".
He also claimed that Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was also practising appeasement politics. Patra accused Siddaramaiah of "hobnobbing" with a Muslim outfit, Popular Front of India, while it was being probed by the National Investigation Agency.
Watch video: Mecca Masjid blast case: After verdict, NIA judge Ravindra Reddy resigns