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Witnesses identify Sharma in Mecca Masjid blast case

By Mohammed Siddique
Last updated on: June 27, 2010 22:38 IST
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In a success for the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Mecca Masjid blast case, two of the witnesses have identified Lokesh Sharma, who was arrested by the Rajasthan police in April, as the man who had purchased a cellphone from their shop.

Though the CBI has been tight lipped about the identification parade that was held in Chanchalguda central jail in the presence of a magistrate, sources said a total of 15 "suspects" were lined up before the two witnesses, who identified the 30-year-old Sharma.

CBI officials waited outside the jail during the parade to ensure fairness.

The cellphone that Sharma allegedly bought from his hometown Indore, had been found at the Mecca Masjid along with an unexploded bomb.

Sources said this was a clinching evidence for the CBI had against Sharma which helped to strengthen their case.

The bomb, which did not explode, was kept in a bag and it was left hanging from an iron grill at the masjid courtyard. The cellphone led the CBI to Sharma.

The SIM card recovered from the phone had been allegedly bought by another accused, Devender Gupta.

Gupta, a former Vibhag Pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, is presently in the CBI custody and was being questioned about the conspiracy and others involved in the blast. 

The two witnesses, with covered faces, were brought from Indore amid tight security in a convoy of four vehicles.

Anxious about the security of its witnesses in Mecca Masjid blast case, the CBI has filed a petition under Unlawful activities (prevention) Act in the local court in Hyderabad requesting that the names and addresses of the witnesses be kept confidential.

The investigation agency's probe into the blasts in Malegaon (Maharashtra), Ajmer (Rajasthan) and Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) has led it to Hindu terrorist groups.

Authorities are also investigating the role of Abhinav Bharat for its suspected role in the Samjhauta Express blast after they found striking similarities between the train blast and other blasts.

The Samjhauta Express blast had killed 68 passengers in 2007.

The suitcase used in Samjhauta Express blast led the investigators to Indore in Madhya Pradesh, which has emerged as the hotbed of activities of Hindu militant elements.

The accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case -- Sharma, Ramachandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange -- hail from Madya Pradesh.
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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad