Blast anniversary: Tight security in Hyderabad

Hyderabad, May 18 (IANS) Police tightened security in Hyderabad Saturday for the sixth anniversary of the bomb blast at the historic Mecca Masjid, officials said.

Additional police forces including the personnel from the paramilitary Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed in the old city, especially around the mosque and the Charminar, the symbol of Hyderabad.

Nine people were killed and 58 injured in the bomb blast during Friday prayers May 18, 2007 at the 17th century mosque, one of the biggest mosques in India. Minutes later, five more people were killed when the police opened fire on a mob staging a protest near the mosque.

A police officer said armed pickets were posted in sensitive areas, as a precautionary measure, in view of the incidents that took place in the past. Patrolling and vehicle checking were intensified since Friday.

Terror suspect Vikaruddin and his gang had targeted policemen on the blast anniversaries in 2009 and 2010, killing a home guard and a police constable.

Since then the police were deploying only armed men at vulnerable points. Vikaruddin, who was arrested later, allegedly confessed to killing the policemen to avenge the death of protestors in police firing.

Immediately after the blast, police had blamed Pakistan and Bangladesh based terror groups and rounded up dozens of local Muslim youth.

The arrested youth were allegedly kept in illegal detention and were tortured. All of them were later acquitted by courts.

On the recommendation of National Minorities Commission, the Andhra Pradesh government in 2011 paid compensation of Rs.300,000 each to 15 victims of police torture and Rs.20,000 each to 46 others who were let off by police after questioning.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy had apologised in the assembly for harassment and torture of innocent youth.

The National Investigating Agency (NIA), which took over the investigations from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), cracked the case with the arrest of six activists of the right-wing Hindu groups during last two years.

Lokesh Sharma and Devender Gupta, former members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), were the first to be arrested in the case.

Swamy Aseemanand, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai, Tejaram and Rajender Choudhary alias Samundar are the other accused in judicial custody.

Two others, Sandeep V. Dange and Ramchandra Kalsangra, are absconding. According to the investigators another key accused Sunil Joshi was gunned down by his associates in December 2007 following some differences.

The accused are also allegedly involved in Malegaon, Ajmer dargah and Samjhauta Express blasts.

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