HYDERABAD: If the five accused who were acquitted on Monday were not responsible for the blast, and if hundreds of those who were initially arrested and later released were innocent too, who are the actual perpetrators of the attack? asks one of those who was wrongly arrested in the case.
"Did the bomb fall from the sky? Or was it sprout from the ground? Who did it if not those five guys?" says a livid Abdul Wajid. A realtor by profession, Wajid was picked up in 2007 and allegedly tortured by police on suspicion that he was involved in the case.
Later, when the court pointed out irregularities in the arrest, he and several others arrested in similar manner were released. Another such person is Dr Ibrahim Ali Junaid, who was present in the mosque during the blast.
"The judgement should be appealed at in a higher court after collecting more evidence. The reason behind witnesses turning hostile should also be investigated," says Junaid.
Muhammad Abdul Kareem, yet another wrongly accused, says the investigating officers are to be blamed and not the court. "Any person in his professional capacity can make a sound judgement between right or wrong. Similarly a police official can guess whether a person is guilty or not guilty. We were treated like animals despite being innocent; were the accused acquitted today treated the same way?"
Silence looms over Mecca Masjid
Sitting beside the main entrance of Mecca Masjid, Md Imran is busy wooing tourists to try his attar. Nearby, armed police have set up a camp to keep vigil in the area. The mood is grim. Sensing the tension, a thick cover of police was deployed in and around the historic monument on Monday. Armed cops manned all entry and exit points at Khilwat Ground, Naaz Cafe, and New Ladbazar Road.
Only thing that has changed 11 years after the blast is installation of metal detectors and a group of cops frisking people entering the monument, says Imran. "Those who committed this crime have no iman (faith). If the guilty are set free, there are chances of such disasters happening again," he says.
"You should have seen how police used force on those running out of fear on that fateful day," recalls Muneer Ahmed, a resident of Kachiguda. "They failed then by being insensitive. Today when they could not pool enough evidence against the accused." Retired DSP MA Khadeer Siddiqui, who was also the Superintendent of Mecca Masjid, agrees with this theory.
"A judgment is always dependent on the production of evidence. And if the accused are acquitted, it means that the investigation was a failure. In our times, when accused were given the benefit of doubt leading to acquittal, we would have memos against our record. In some occasions, our increments would also be cut. Things have changed now," says a thoughtful Siddiqui.
Tension was also palpable in the otherwise peaceful Red Hills and its neighbourhood in Nampally as the criminal courts complex was highly fortified as special court for NIA cases delivered verdict in the Mecca Masjid blasts in 2007.