All five accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case were acquitted by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Hyderabad on Monday.
The court said that the prosecution failed to prove any of the charges against the accused in the incident which left nine people dead and over 50 injured when they were praying at the historic mosque located near the Charminar.
The five accused – Aseemanand (alias Naba Kumar Sarkar), Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Bharatbhai and Rajender Chowdhary – were alleged to be members of Hindu right-wing group.
The police recovered and defused two live IEDs following the blast.
Here is a brief timeline of events:
18 May 2007: A pipe-bomb explodes at the Mecca Masjid near Charminar in Hyderabad during Friday prayers killing 9 and injuring 58 others.
The incident triggers angry protests forcing the police to fire on the mob killing another five.
9 June 2007: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) takes over the case. The probe agency later connects the blast to members of right wing group Abhinav Bharat.
29 December 2007: RSS member Sunil Joshi, a key accused in the case, is shot dead by unknown persons in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh.
19 November 2010: CBI arrests Swami Aseemanand in connection with the blast from Haridwar. The agency also questions senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar in the case.
The CBI also arrests other accused including Devender Guptha and Lokesh Sharma.
18 December 2010: Aseemanand confesses to his involvement in the blast before the court.
He later retracted his ‘confession’ alleging that he was coerced by the ATS (Anti-Terror Squad).
March 2011: Aseemanand acquitted by a special NIA court in connection with the 2007 Ajmer Sharif Dargah blast case in which he was named.
7 April 2011: The NIA takes over the Mecca Masjid blast case.
During NIA’s probe, Aseemanand gives a signed declaration naming eight Abhinav Bharat members, including himself, in the conspiracy and execution of the blast at Mecca Masjid.
Ten people were initially named accused but five were arrested.
23 March 2017: Aseemanand gets bail from a Hyderabad court.
31 March 2017: Aseemanad walks out of Chanchalguda jail.
In that same month a Rajasthan court sentenced Gupta and another accused to life imprisonment in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast.
15 February 2018: Lt Col Prasad Srikant Purohit, a witness in the Mecca Masjid blast case, turns hostile along with 64 others.
Lt Col Purohit, himself an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, said that his statement was never recorded. He had been granted bail in the Malegaon blast case in August 2017 by the Supreme Court.
16 April 2018: Special NIA court in Nampally acquits all accused due to lack of evidence.