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Has Mecca Masjid blast probe met another dead end?

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 15:57 IST
Policemen stand guard at the site of a blast in front of Mecca Masjid

The confessions of Swami Aseemanand may have brought a certain amount of clarity in the Malegaon and the Samjhauta Express blasts cases, but the Mecca Masjid blast case remains far from being solved. Though the hardline Hindutva godman, who was primarily an accused in the 2007 blast case in Hyderabad, has confessed to his involvement in the terror act, the probe remains at a standstill. Have the investigators been lackadaisical in their approach towards this case?

The probe itself seems to have started on a wrong note with the Hyderabad police looking into investigations almost four years after the blast. Moreover, Muslims in the city felt that they were getting a raw deal. While their community was being targetted investigators first suspected the involvement of Islamic radicals in the attack

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Investigators barking up the wrong tree

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 15:57 IST
The police initially suspected that Islamic extremists were behind the blast

After much pressure the case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which has made little progress over the past two years. Today, the Mecca Masjid case stands divided into two -- the case of the exploded bomb and the case of the unexploded bomb.

The CBI commenced investigations of the case pertaining the explosive that went off. However, the unexploded bomb was detected by the Hyderabad police and the case still remains with them. Pressure is now building up on the local police to hand over the case to the CBI, say insiders.

Human rights activists who have been espousing the cause of the Muslim accused who were booked in this case say there is no reason why one case should be handled by the CBI and the other by the police. The bombs were planted at the same location with the same intention. The case should be under one investigation agency, they believe.


Did the Hyderabad police goof-up?

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 15:57 IST
Policemen use sniffer dogs to inspect the site of a bomb blast at Mecca Masjid

The Hyderabad police, however, were reluctant to give up the case as they said they were digging for more information. However, investigations show that there is not much progress made and the police now want to give it a quietus.

An officer in the Hyderabad police pointed out that most of the officers who were part of the investigation have been transferred and are now wondering why the case was retained in the first place. They are now waiting for a formal request from the CBI to hand over the probe to them.

The CBI however points out that the primary focus now remains on the case of the exploded bomb. According to them, Aseemanand's confession has been of great help and has given them a direction. They are now probing into two aspects of the case -- who planted the bombs at Mecca Masjid and who provided logistic and local help to carry out the attack.


The big question: Who provided local support to bombers?

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 15:57 IST
Five people were killed and another 55 injured in the explosion at the Hyderabad mosque

While Aseemanand has given the investigators headway, the task before them is to join the dots between slain Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak Sunil Joshi, his aides Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalsangra and RSS vibhag pracharak of Muzaffarnagar, Bihar Devendra Gupta and Lokesh Sharma also connected to the outfit.

The CBI on December 18 filed a chargesheet in the case in a court in Hyderabad against Gupta and Sharma. Along with Joshi the chargesheet also names Dange and Kalsangra, who are absconding.

These men are not from Hyderabad and could not have carried out the attack without local help, say sources from the CBI.
Gupta, who has been in the CBI custody, has not thrown any light on the support provided by the locals. Sharma has not been of any help either. Moreover, the Hyderabad police too have not been able to gather much information regarding this aspect throwing investigators into a tizzy.


Mecca Masjid, Ajmer blast plotters the same: CBI

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 15:57 IST
Security personnel inspect the site of a bomb blast at the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisty in Ajmer October 11, 2007

The CBI has however established that the Mecca Masjid blasts and the 2007 Ajmer Sharief blast were planned by the same set of people.

"Nabbing Dange and Kalsangra will give us all the answers. Aseemanand's confession is just a tip of the iceberg and there is a lot of groundwork that remains to be done in order to bring about clarity in this case. We need to ascertain who planted the bombs at Mecca Masjid and crack down on locals who provided support to the men behind the blasts," said a CBI official.

However, investigators are confident that Dange and Kalsangra will be in the CBI net soon since there is a reward announced by the National Investigation Agency probing the Samjhauta blasts case for information on these suspects.


'Aseemanand's confessions not surprising'

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 15:57 IST
Swami Aseemanand

Hyderabad-based Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, who has been helping the accused fight their cases, said that Aseemanand's confession comes as no surprise to them. The fact-finding commission related to the Mecca Masjid case had pointed out that the Hyderabad police were misguiding the investigation and were shielding the accused.

The committee says that the confession of Aseemanand is selective in nature, as at no point of time does he mention who provided local support to the bombers.

The CBI however says that such investigations take sometime. "The picture is just becoming clearer and it may take a couple of months before we get some clarity in the case. Solving the Mecca Masjid blast case also means cracking the Ajmer blast case," said a CBI officer.