Hyderabad, Apr 17: Swamy Aseemanand, along with four others, was acquitted by an NIA court on Monday in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case. Despite a clean chit from the court, trouble is not over yet for Aseemanand. A resident of Gujarat, Aseemanand now faces trial only in the 2007 Samjhauta Express train blast case. On February 18, 2007, 68 people were killed in a blast on the Samjhauta Express train between New Delhi and Lahore in Pakistan. Most of the victims were Pakistanis.

Swamy Aseemanand, who was formerly associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is currently on bail in the case pertaining to the blast on the Samjhauta Express train. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had granted bail to Aseemanand in the case in 2014. The septuagenarian was earlier acquitted in the Ajmer Dargah blast case. Aseemanand is considered an ideologue of Abhinav Bharat, an organisation allegedly involved in Malegaon and Ajmer blasts.

Swami Aseemanand, whose real name is Naba Kumar Sarkar, was arrested on November 19, 2010, from Haridwar in connection with the blast at the Mecca Masjid on May 18, 2007. He was granted conditional bail in 2017. In 2010, Aseemanand had allegedly confessed that he and other right-wing activists planted bombs at Islamic places of worship across the country to take revenge against the “Muslims terrorism”. He later retracted his statements, saying he was pressurised to give wrong statements.

In a surprising turn of events, the NIA court judge who acquitted all five accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case resigned hours after the verdict. Special NIA court judge K Ravinder Reddy sent his resignation to the Chief Justice of the Hyderabad High Court. There was no information if his decision was linked to the verdict or some other issue. Out of a total of 10 accused named in the case, only five faced trial, as one died while others are still absconding.

While Congress and Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) criticised the acquittals, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the verdict exposed the appeasement politics of Congress. The powerful explosion killed eight people during the Friday prayers at Mecca Masjid near the iconic Charminar on May 18, 2007. Later, five more people were killed in subsequent police firing on the crowd outside the mosque.