Several Muslim leaders from different parties and organizations have hailed the verdict of a local court acquitting 21 youth in a criminal conspiracy case and demanded that the state government and the police tender an apology to the community.
Prominent leaders, including Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi and Rajya Sabha member Syed Aziz Pasha said that the court verdict has proved that the police had targeted and victimized innocent youth and tried to frame them in to false and fabricated case.
They also demanded that the state government pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to each of the acquitted youth and an apology from state Home Minister K Jana Reddy.
Seventh Additional Sessions judge A Radhakrishna, in his verdict on Wednesday, had dismissed the charges of criminal conspiracy, sedition and waging war against the State against the 21 youth. Acquitting the accused, most of them in their early 20s, the court said that the prosecution had failed to bring any evidence against them.
The youth, including a medical student and a MBA student, were arrested by the police soon after the blast in Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007. While charges were brought against the 21 youth in the case, the police had showed another 44 persons as absconding, though many of them were very much present in the city.
Reacting to the court judgment, Owaisi -- Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief and Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad -- said it was high time the government closely scrutinised the style of functioning and investigations by the police.
"The more important question is that if these youth were innocent then how the police tried to implicate them in this case and who were the real culprits behind the Mecca Masjid blast and other two blasts in the city," Owaisi said.
"As a member of Parliament with full responsibility I can say that the blast in Mecca Masjid could be handiwork of Abhinav Bharat and elements like Sadhvi Pragyan and Col Purohit. The case could not be solved so far because the police has refused to investigate the role of such elements," he said.
Syed Aziz Pasha, member of Rajya Sabha of the CPI, said the court verdict will strengthen the faith of people in the judiciary.
"From the beginning, the Left parties and other democratic forces have been saying that these youth were innocent," he said.
Mohammed Abdul Wajed, one of the acquitted youth, said he had to wage a one-and-a-half-year-long legal battle to prove his innocence.
"My family suffered badly because I was the eldest son and the only bread earner of my family," he said.
He also revealed that even her married sister faced lot of harassment by her in-laws and was subjected to mental torture as 'sister of a terrorist'.
Moulana Abdul Aleem Islahi, a respected religious leader, expressed happiness over the verdict as his son Moatasim Billah was among the acquitted youth. He said Moatasim had been cleared in all the four cases registered against him. "But he has lost one year of Engineering course and the local media was still portraying him and other family members as terrorists, damaging their reputation," he said.
This is the third time that the local courts in Hyderabad have acquitted the youth in terror related cases.