Three years after the Mecca Masjid blasts rocked Hyderabad, the investigation into this case seems to have hit a dead end.
Preliminary investigations had pointed to the Harkat-ul-Jihadi-Islami. The Hyderabad police said that it was Shahid Bilal, a resident of Moosrambagh in the old city who had carried out these blasts in order to create communal tension in Hyderabad. Interestingly in this case two FIRs were lodged. One case dealt with the blast, the other dealt with the unexploded explosives that were recovered.
Sixty youth were picked up during the initial investigation and though the investigations did not point toward their direct involvement, each of them was booked for conspiracy. They were charged with viewing CDs of the Babri Masjid demolition and the Gujarat riots. Eventually they were acquitted for lack of evidence.
After their acquittal, there was a demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe. After lot of deliberations, the case was finally handed over to the CBI. It was decided that the FIR pertaining to the exploded bomb would be handled by the CBI and the other FIR would be probed by the Hyderabad police.
Once the CBI took over, they worked on the leads by the AP police. Two persons, Raezuddin and Shoaib Jagirdar were arrested and taken to Delhi and interrogated. However, the CBI released them for want of evidence.
Changing theory: Residents now question why none of the agencies are following up the case. Recently the CBI said that they were exploring the possibility of Hindu right wing involvement in the case. The AP police too maintains that the investigations are still on.
Lateef Mohammad Khan of the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, who had helped the accused fight their cases, said that the Muslims have been victimised thrice due to this blast -- first when five people were killed in the blast, secondly when nine others lost their lives in police firing after the blasts and third when the blame for this incident fell on the community. "We had a fact finding committee immediately after all this and we found that it was the handiwork of some right-wing groups. We also questioned as to why the entire case was not handed over to the CBI. The fact that the police kept one of the cases with them is an indication that they wanted to spread panic and fear among the people of the community who feared even going out on that day and praying for those who lost their lives," Khan said.
Khan added that the biased investigation by the police and the CBI's lethargy had helped the real accused get away. The cops, however, maintain that it was the handiwork of the HuJI and the investigations had slowed down after the death of its mastermind Shahid Bilal. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram too had said that the investigation has gone cold with Bilal's death.
Sources say that the CBI is seriously looking into the involvement of Hindu right wing groups in this incident. Not only have some officials indicated this involvement, but the interrogation of some of the accused from these groups have claimed that the Ajmer and Mecca Masjid blasts were linked. A year ago following the arrests made in the Malegaon blasts, a finger was pointed towards Hyderabad. Sadhvi Pragya Singh too was questioned about her role in the Hyderabad incident, but nothing much came out of it.
The Muslims in Hyderabad have been extremely vocal on the issue. They said that investigations needed to be serious and the real culprits should be brought to book. They also want the CBI should investigate the nexus between Hindutva groups and anti-Muslim police officers.