The acquittal of Swami Aseemanand and four others in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast due to lack of evidence has highlighted the ineffective role of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in cases related to terror attacks targeting Muslims. The five acquitted are associated with a right-wing organisation Abhinav Bharat which has been linked with similar cases like 2006, 2008 Malegaon bombing, 2007 Samjhauta Express and Ajmer Sharif Dargah blasts.
Aseemanand has already been acquitted in the Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast case last year due to lack of evidence. The acquittal follows a disturbing pattern where key witnesses have turned hostile in related cases and NIA has chosen to remain a mute spectator.
NIA seems to have done a complete turnaround in pursuing these cases after the BJP led NDA government came to power. The premier agency has not been able to arrest any of the absconding accused in these cases since 2014. They didn’t even challenge the court’s bail order to two accused – Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma – in the Mecca Masjid Dargah case earlier. NIA’s defence is they haven’t been able to recover any material evidence related to the case.
This raises a bigger question mark on the efficacy of our investigation agencies where they have not been able to gather any concrete evidence for the prosecution in such cases. So far NIA has not been able to find clinching evidence against anyone guilty of orchestrating the Mecca Masjid Dargah blast. A government that cannot bring perpetrators of terror to justice doesn’t augur well for any democracy.