Mecca Masjid blast anniversary passes off peacefully
Hyderabad, May 18 (IANS) Amid tight security, the fifth anniversary of the bomb blast at the historic Mecca Masjid here passed without any untoward incident Friday.
The Friday prayers at the 17th century mosque near the landmafrk Charminar and in other mosques across the city passed off peacefully, officials said.
Police had made elaborate security arrangements around Mecca Masjid and at other places of worship in the communally-sensitive old city. Units of paramilitary Rapid Action Force, City Armed Reserve and Andhra Pradesh Special Police were deployed.
A police officer said no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the city.
Mobile teams of armed policemen were patrolling the sensitive areas as the police reduced the number of static pickets in view of attacks in the past.
Viquar Ahmed, an alleged terror suspect, had been targeting police pickets on the blast anniversary.
Though he was arrested in July 2010 and the last anniversary too passed off peacefully, the police did not take any chances and focused more on mobile patrolling this time.
Viquar had gunned down a policeman each on 2009 and 2010 anniversaries to allegedly avenge the killing of five persons in police firing after the bomb blast.
Nine persons were killed and 58 others were injured in the bomb blast during Friday prayers on May 18, 2007, at the 17th century mosque, one of the biggest in India.
Some time later, five more persons were killed when police opened fire on a mob staging a protest near the mosque.
Reacting quickly, the police blamed Pakistan and Bangladesh-based terror groups for the blast. They also rounded up dozens of Muslim youths from various parts of the city, kept them in illegal detention and tortured them. All of them were later acquitted by the court.
As investigations progressed, it turned out the blast was a handiwork of some radical activists and outfits allegedly associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other right-wing Hindu groups.
On the recommendation of the National Minorities Commission, the state government last year paid compensation of Rs.300,000 each to 15 victims of police torture and Rs.20,000 each to 46 others who were let off by police after questioning.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy also apologised in the assembly for harassment and torture of innocent youths in the wake of the blast.
The city police initially carried out the investigations but these were later handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The investigating agency thought the case reached a dead end as Shahid Bilal, who was suspected to be behind the blast, was reportedly killed in a gun battle in Pakistan.
The case, however, took a dramatic twist in 2010 when Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma, both members of Hindu extremist group Abhinav Bharat and accused in 2007 Ajmer blast, were arrested by anti-terrorist squad in Rajasthan. The same year Swami Aseemanand was also arrested.
The National Investigating Agency (NIA), which later took up the probe, could not make any progress as two key accused Ramachandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, who allegedly planted the bomb at the mosque, are still untraced and on the run.
The investigators identified six accused who hatched a conspiracy and planted two improvised explosive device (IED) in the mosque. While one IED exploded, the other was later defused.
The sixth accused Sunil Joshi was shot dead by unidentified persons in Dewas of Madhya Pradesh in November 2007.
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