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Mecca Masjid blast verdict another setback for NIA after Ajmer Dargah case

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Monday that it would examine the judgment in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case and decide the future course of action.

Five accused, including former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member Aseemanand, were acquitted by a special NIA court in Hyderabad on Monday. Nine persons were killed in the blast that was carried out using an improvised explosive device.

Those acquitted on Monday include Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharath Mohanlal Rateshwar and Rajendra Choudhary.

Ajmer Dargah blast

A special court, in Jaipur on March 8 last year, had acquitted Aseemanand and six others in the case of the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast that killed three persons and injured 17. Three others were convicted by the court. The NIA did not challenge the acquittals in the Ajmer case.

Former NIA Director-General Sharad Kumar, who oversaw the trial in this case, refused to comment.

Aseemanand walked out of jail in March 2017 after he was granted bail by the Hyderabad court. The NIA challenged the bail, but he was allowed by the court to leave Hyderabad.

Aseemanand was first arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Mecca Masjid case in 2010 and the case was then transferred to the NIA.

No response from Pak.

He is facing trial in another case — the 2007 Samjhauta Express blast, where 68 people, mostly Pakistanis, were killed when the train was on its way to Lahore from Delhi. Aseemanand and five others have been chargesheeted by the NIA. He was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High court in August 2014, months after the NDA government came to power.

In the Samjhauta trial, the court has recorded the statements of 209 of the 299 witnesses. As many as 42 witnesses have turned hostile.

An official said that the summons sent by special NIA court in Panchkula to record the statements of 24 Pakistani witnesses who were on board the train at the time of the blast have remained unanswered.

The court has sent three summons asking the Pakistani witnesses to appear in the August.

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