Mecca Masjid blast case: Aseemanand, others let off; top 10 developments

Swami Aseemanand, a former RSS member and Abhinav Bharat ideologue, was among those acquitted today by a special court in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case


A special National Investigation Agency(NIA) court in Hyderabad on Monday acquitted all the accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case. The Namapally Court’s judgment came in the case regarding the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast, which claimed nine lives. The fourth additional metropolitan sessions-cum-special court for NIA cases had concluded the trial and last week posted the case for judgment on April 16. The Mecca Masjid attack was allegedly carried out by a group of right-wing terrorists 11 years ago on May 18, 2007.

The accused who were acquitted on Monday are Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Swami Aseemanand, Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar, and Rajendra Chowdhary. Aseemanand, reported to have been a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at one point, is an ideologue of the extremist Right-wing Hindu organisation Abhinav Bharat.

The blast, which took place during Friday prayers at the Mecca Masjid, adjacent to the historic Charminar in the Old Hyderabad City, had left nine people dead and 58 injured.

Here are the top 10 developments around the Mecca Masjid blast case verdict:

1) All Mecca blast accused let off: All the accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case were acquitted by the Namapally Court on Monday.

2) ‘No Hindu terror angle’: Reacting to the acquittal of all the accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case, former Under Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs RVS Mani said, “I had expected it.” Mani claimed that “all the pieces of evidence were engineered”, adding that “there was no Hindu terror angle”.

3) Lt Col Purohit declared hostile witness in Mecca Masjid blast case: Lt Col Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, on February 15, 2018, turned hostile while deposing in a Hyderabad court as a witness in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case. Purohit had been listed as a witness by the CBI in the case related to the blast at the Mecca Masjid. The case was later taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

4) Aseemanand granted bail in Mecca Masjid blast case: A court on March 24, 2017, granted bail to Swami Aseemanand in the 2007 Mecca Masjid bomb blast case. The court had already granted bail to three others in the case.The court of Fourth Metropolitan Sessions Judge also granted bail to Bharat Mohanlal Rateshwar alias Bharat Bhai, a co-accused in the case. Special Judge Ravinder Reddy had granted bail to both Aseemanand and Rateshwar with the direction to produce two local sureties of Rs 50,000 each. Aseemanand had been directed by the judge to not leave Hyderabad without the court’s permission and remain present for the trial when required.

5) Mecca Masjid blast case’s brief chronology: The blast at the historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad on May 18, 2007, during Friday prayers had claimed nine lives and left 58 others injured. After initial investigation by local police, the case was transferred to the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI), which filed a charge sheet. Subsequently, the NIA took over the case from the CBI in 2011.

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IPL 2018: SRH’s Deepak Hooda does a Houdini’s Act to defeat MI by 1 wicket

Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to the depth and variety in its bowling attack to counter the might of Mumbai batting which have the likes of Rohit Sharma, Even Lewis, and Ishan Kishan

IPL 2018, Deepak Hooda and Ben Stanlake after winning the nail-biting encounter against Mumbai Indians. Photo: PTI

Sunrisers Hyderabad won their second match of IPL 2018 against Mumbai Indians by 1 wicket in a nail-biting encounter. Chasing a modest target of 148 in 20 overs, Shikhar Dhawan and Wridimann Saha gave Sunrisers Hyderabad a flying start as they crossed 50 run mark in the 6 overs of Powerplay. But Mumbai Indians Pulled it back by taking wickets at regular intervals. In the last two overs, Sunrisers Hyderabad needed 12 runs off 12 balls and Mustafizur Rahman gave only 1 run and took 2 wickets. Ben Cutting came to bowl the last over for Mumbai Indians, SRH’s Deepak Hooda dispatched the first ball of the last ball for six as they needed 11 runs in last over. That brings the deficit down to 5 runs of 5 balls. Both Stanlake and Deepak Hooda held their nerve and brought the deficit down to 1 run of 1 ball. Stanlake hit a boundary over midwicket to seal the game for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Here are over by over and Sunrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai Indians innings analysis, highlights

Sunrisers Hyderabad innings: Over by over

Pradeep Sangwan bowling first over. Shikhar Dhawan and Wriddhiman Saha are on the crease.
Over 1: Saha took one run of the first ball. Shikar hit the 2nd ball for 4. The third ball he took single. Dot, dot, and single of the last ball of the over. At the end of first over. SRH 7/0

Over 2: Bumarah came to bowl. First ball dot. Singles of 2nd, 3rd, 4th ball. Dhawan hit four of the 5th ball. Takes a cheeky single off the last ball. At the end of

Over 3: Sangwan bowling the third over. Dhawan hit the first ball for four, took a single off the second ball that is leg bye. Saha dropped off the third ball and ball gone for 4. Dot ball. Short ball, top edge goes for four. Last ball of the 3rd ball for no run

Over 4: Ben Cutting bowling, Dhawan takes single. Second ball for goes for 1 run. Third ball again a single. The 4th ball hit for four over the bowler’s head. Single of the fifth ball. Two runs of the last ball.

Over 5: Krunal into the attack. Easy pickings for SRH. Just four runs conceded. Tighter line and variation helped him. End of over: SRH 42-0

Over 6: Bhumra is back and Dhawan drives him through the covers for four. Dhawan takes two. Steps out, swings and misses. Off the pads, flicked off the leg side, four for Dhawan. Good shot. Inside edge misses the stumps, gone for four. End of over: 56-0

Over 7: Markande comes to the attack. Dhawan hits a four. Single, that was quick. Saha on strike misreads and his caught in front of the stump, appeal turned down, reviewed. He is given out. Saha goes for 22. Kane Williamson comes in. Takes a single. End of over: SRH 63-1

Over 8: Mustafizur Rahman comes to the attack. Easy single. Dhawan pulls and pulls for four. He is in good touch. Dot ball. That was a risky single. Had it hit the stump, Dhawan would have gone. Mumbai needs that kind of lucky dismissals. Kane edges one and gets a four. Huge huge appeal for caught behind, turned down, reviewed. There is the spike on the ultra edge! and he is out! Kane Williamson is out for 6. End of over: SRH 73-2

Over 9: Manish Pandey joins Dhawan. Markande continues. Dot ball. Cheeky single. No need for such risks. Dhawan sweeps in the air, and Bhumra takes it, a flurry of wickets. Dhawan goes for 45. Manish hits it for a four. Shakin joins him. End of over: SRH 81-3

Over 10: Six runs came off the over.

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IPL 2018: Why Gambhir failed to turn things around for Delhi Daredevils

Kings XI Punjab’s K L Rahul scored the fastest IPL fifty in his team’s match against Delhi Daredevils to take the game away from Delhi’s reach. Here’s why things are not working for Delhi Daredevils

Delhi Daredevils (DD) captain Gautam Gambhir  plays a shot against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) during an IPL match 2018 at IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali. Photo: PTI

Two Indian Premier League (IPL) teams with two striking similarities — empty trophy cabinet, and new captains — were hoping for a good start to IPL 2018. Only one of them managed to achieve it. Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) faced Delhi Daredevils (DD) at their home turf in Mohali. Former captain of Kolkata Knight Riders Gautam Gambhir was taken by DD this year in IPL 2018 auctions. KXIP, too, had a new captain in Ravichandran Ashwin.

KXIP won the toss and invited Delhi Daredevils to bat, and thus began a series of mistakes and errors for DD. Hopes were pinned on the newly appointed captain Gautam Gambhir. And he did not disappoint personally — he struck a half-century. But he did not get the required support from other batsmen. Opener Colin Munro, dismissed cheaply for 4, became the first wicket for the youngest debutant Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

As Gambhir tried to reconstruct the innings, Shreyas Iyer played a couple of extravagant shots and, oozing overconfidence, lofted one high in the air only to be caught easily and sent back to the dug-out. The fate of Vijay Shankar was no different. He came, he scored 13 from 13, and in desperation to accelerate, threw his wicket away. Once again, Gambhir had to switch from the hitting mode to rebuilding. | Today’s Paper

Punjab’s bowling was not as menacing as one would have thought. Indeed it was the poor shot selection of DD batsmen, and their lack of character, that made the scorecard look so modest. A few cameos did not prove very helpful, either. Rishab Pant went hammers and tongs to score a quickfire 28. But when he needed to show some maturity, he failed and threw his wicket away.

Gambhir did all he could, but eventually gave in to the pressure of increasing the run rate and was dismissed for a decent 55 off 42 balls. What really hurt the innings was the inexperience of his teammates. His own dismissal was not ordinary; he got run out and the players that followed him could not do much. Chris Morris made a quick 27 to take the team to a respectable-but-still-difficult-to-defend total of 166-7.

One would think chasing 167 would be easy, but the first match of this IPL season — between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians — proved otherwise with a similar scorecard. Frankly, that was the expectation from the bowlers of Delhi — to at least put up a flight and turn this one into a close encounter.

But, alas, DD bowlers were destined to take the field only to be smashed! It was opener K L Rahul’s date with destiny. From ball one, he made his intentions clear. He smashed, he hammered, and he ripped apart Delhi’s bowling. The bowlers had no answer whatsoever to his tactics. If you earlier thought DD’s batsmen were the champions of displaying immaturity on the field, now you had Delhi’s bowlers proving they were not far behind.

Rahul hit towering sixes and ferocious boundaries all over. So much so that he went on to score the fastest ever IPL half-century, taking only 14 balls to achieve the feat, with 6 fours and four sixes.

Star bowlers of Delhi — Trent Boult, Mohd Shami, and Amit Mishra — were hammered. The worst part was that these players had more experience than Rahul and yet they could do nothing to contain him, or Karun Nair, who too scored a fifty. Disappointing line and length, no variation, and lack of creativity were some of the reason for abysmal bowling. And, eventually, Delhi lost by six wickets.

If you could not fault the batsman Gambhir, the same could not be said about the captain Gambhir. Overall, the captaincy was sub-par, but then there was not much he could do to save his team from a shameful defeat. Yes, it was Rahul’s day. Such performances happen once in a long time (like ABD’s 31-ball century against West Indies in an ODI), but not being able to control the flow of runs is something Delhi needs to ponder about.

Delhi gifted this one to Punjab on a platter by failing to score runs and then not even trying to defend the total. This is what you a call a team’s collective failure. Batsmen do not put up a good score. The captain fails to bring in his experience to improvise and contain the other side. The bowlers do not even try. The game never belonged to Delhi. It had Punjab written all over it.

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Blackbuck case: Salman Khan in jail for 1 more day; bail tomorrow? updates

Bollywood actor Salman Khan was on Thursday pronounced guilty and sentenced to 5 years in jail in the Blackbuck poaching case of 1998. Jodhpur sessions court will decide on his bail plea today

Salman Khan

District and Sessions Court Judge Ravindra Kumar Joshi on Friday adjourned Bollywood star Salman Khan’s bail hearing in a 1998 blackbuck poaching case to Saturday. Joshi told the media here that he has reserved the judgment till April 7, which means, Salman Khan will have to spend yet another night in prison. Pronouncing the verdict in the 20-year-old case, another court in Jodhpur had on Thursday convicted the actor and sentenced him to five years in jail. The other co-accused in the case — Tabu, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Neelam — meanwhile, were cleared of all charges. Additonally, a penalty of Rs 10,000 was also imposed on Khan. | Today’s Paper

The actor is accused of killing two blackbucks in the Kankani village near Jodhpur in 1998 during the shooting of the film Hum Saath Saath Hain.

He was charged under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act and others under Section 51 read with Section 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code. With this, the Sword of Damocles now hangs over Salman Khan’s ongoing projects. He is slated to star in four major films over the next two years — Race 3, Dabangg 3, Kick 2 and Bharat. While the last three are in pre-production stages, Race 3 is in production in the UAE. Trade analysts said the Rs 4-5 billion riding on these films might be affected by his sentencing. Amid tight security, Salman was taken to the Jodhpur Central Jail where he spent the night in barrack number one. The prison also houses rape-accused Asaram Bapu, Bhanwari Devi murder accused Malkhan Singh Vishnoi, and Shambhu Lal Regar, arrested for killing a Muslim and blatantly filming the act.

Here are top 10 developments related to the 1998 Salman Khan Blackbuck poaching case in which Khan has been sentenced to 5 years in jail and other co-accused have been acquitted:

What happened in court today:

Salman Khan’s bodyguard Shera and sisters were present in the court.

The prosecution said, “we wanted maximum punishment”

Mahipal Bishnoi, counsel for the Bishnoi community, had said on Thursday, “After the court convicted Khan under Section 9/51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment along with a monetary fine of Rs 10,000. We had asked for maximum punishment available under the provisions of the Act, which is six years, but the court sentenced him to five years. From the beginning, our case was strong because of watertight evidence and the fact that the witnesses stuck to their statements.”

Jodhpur Session court seeks report on Blackbuck poaching case: According to reports, the sessions court has sought a detailed report on the blackbuck poaching case from the trial court.

Salman Khan’s bail order reserved for Saturday: The Jodhpur Session court will announce its decision at 10:30 am tomorrow.

Statements against Salman Khan false: During the hearing, Salman’s counsel argued that the witnesses’ statements were not reliable and had discrepancies. To this, the public prosecutor retorted that the counsel must then prove these statements wrong.

1. Salman Khan’s bail hearing underway: While Salman Khan fans gathered outside Jodhpur Session court, his lawyer stepped into the room where his fate will be declared. Salman Khan had to spend the night in Jodhpur Central jail after being held guilty in the 1998 blackbuck poaching case on Thursday, but Friday might be a better day for him. His lawyer Hastimal Saraswat is ready with a 51-page bail application, where 54 grounds have been raised for the judge to consider and grant the convicted actor bail. Speaking to a news channel, he said: “If it was not Salman Khan, bail would have been granted the next day.

2. Key witness did not identify Tabu, Sonali Bendre in court: A crucial eyewitness failed to recognise Tabu and Sonali Bendre while being grilled by their lawyer. As for Saif Ali Khan, the witness testimony indicated his presence in the front seat of the vehicle. However, there was no evidence to prove that he instigated Salman to fire at the Blackbucks.

3. Salman Khan gets death threat from local gangster: A Punjab-based gangster, Lawrence Bishnoi, on Friday threatened to kill Bollywood actor Salman Khan.

The notorious gangster was brought to a Jodhpur local court on production warrant. While being taken into the police vehicle, Bishnoi said he would kill Khan in Jodhpur itself. On the reported threat to Khan by the gangster, Jail superintendent Vikram Singh said: We are thinking of keeping him with some other prisoners from tomorrow so that he is not alone considering the threat to him.”

Jodhpur police had arrested Bishnoi for his involvement in twin cases of firing. He was again arrested by the police for his involvement in the murder of Vasudev Israni, an electronic businessman from the city.

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Cong says NaMo app leaks data to US, BJP claims Rahul sends it to Singapore

Rahul Gandhi on Sunday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s app was leaking user data to a third-party US company without users’ consent

Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s app was leaking data to a third-party US company. In a post on Twitter, Gandhi claimed that the prime minister’s NaMo App secretly records audio, video, contacts of citizens’ friends and family. Taking a jibe at Modi, Rahul said he was ‘the Big Boss’ who likes to spy on Indians. | Today’s Paper

Rahul Gandhi claimed that Modi’s app also tracked location of users through GPS. “Now he wants data on our children. 13 lakh NCC cadets are being forced to download the App,” said Rahul Gandhi.

Countering Rahul’s allegations, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) IT cell head Amit Malviya said, “Congress shares app users’ data with friends in Singapore”. He tweeted: Hi! my name is Rahul Gandhi. I am the President of India’s oldest political party. When you signup for our official App, I give all your data to my friends in Singapore.
In subsequent tweets, he cited bits from the Congress web site’s privacy policy.

On Sunday, Rahul Gandhi said, “Modi was allowing ‘American companies’ to take away the data of users who signed up for his application.” Gandhi’s allegations come after the data leak scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, and the many reports of Aadhaar data of Indians being at a risk of compromise. Now, Modi app also seems to be in the eye of a storm, and a new flashpoint in the war between the Congress and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Hi! My name is Narendra Modi. I am India’s Prime Minister. When you sign up for my official App, I give all your data to my friends in American companies,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

Here are the top developments in the latest data breach row allegedly involving the Narendra Modi app:

1) Modi the ‘Big Boss’ who wants to spy on citizens: Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi tweeted: Modi’s NaMo App secretly records audio, video, contacts of your friends and family and even tracks your location via GPS. He’s the Big Boss who likes to spy on Indians. Now he wants data on our children. 13 lakh NCC cadets are being forced to download the app.

2) Congress shares app users’ data with friends in Singapore’, alleges BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya
Amit Malviya tweeted in a similar vein today about data from users of the Congress web site being shared with the party’s “friends in Singapore”.

Hi! my name is Rahul Gandhi. I am the President of India’s oldest political party. When you signup for our official App, I give all your data to my friends in Singapore.
In subsequent tweets, he cited bits from the Congress web site’s privacy policy.

The bit Malviya highlighted from the Congress party’s privacy policy when using its website, says: “For making the use of Website effective and resourceful Indian National Congress may share your information with vendors, consultants, and other service providers or volunteers who are engaged by or working with us and who need access to such information to carry out their work for us; with candidates, organizations, groups or causes that we believe have similar political viewpoints, principles or objectives”.

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Ball-tampering row: Steve Smith may get a life ban; top 10 developments

Amid the ball-tampering controversy, IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals, after getting a clarification from BCCI, might sack Steve Smith and instead appoint Ajinkya Rahane as its skippers for IPL 2018

Steve Smith ball tampering

The Australian ball-tampering controversy has caught cricketers Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft, and David Warner on the wrong foot, and taken cricket fans by surprise, with Smith stepping down as Australia’s captain for the rest of the ongoing third Test match against South Africa. Smith was penalised by the International Cricket Council (ICC), which slapped the Australian with a one-match suspension and fined his entire match fee on Sunday.

Steve Smith’s deputy, David Warner, also stepped down as Australian cricket team’s vice-captain, while wicketkeeper Tim Paine was named to act as a stand-in captain at Newlands, with both Smith and Warner taking the field on Sunday. Meanwhile, days before IPL 2018 commences from April 7, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Indian Premier League (IPL) are playing the waiting game on Smith and Warner’s fate.

Steve Smith might also lose the captaincy of the Rajasthan Royals IPL franchise. In that case, Ajinkya Rahane would likely lead the IPL side. For now, the BCCI and Royals have reportedly heaved a sigh of relief after Smith escaped with a mild punishment.

Smith o Saturday admitted to masterminding a premeditated plan to indulge in ball-tampering, which, among others, prompted even Australia’s prime minister to react and a long-retired captain to mull a comeback. Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the incident a “shocking disappointment”, while Michael Clarke kept open the possibility of returning as the Australia cricket team’s captain.

Here are the top 10 developments in the Steve Smith ball-tampering controversy that has taken Australian cricket and fans over the world by shock:

1) Steve Smith steps down: Caught up in the ball-tampering controversy, Steven Smith stepped down as the Australian cricket team’s captain for the remainder of the ongoing third Test against South Africa.
The actions of the Australian team’s leadership in the ball-tampering controversy would be investigated, said Cricket Australia. Subsequently, the Australian government asked the board to remove Smith as captain. Australian Prime Minister Turnbull called the incident a “shocking disappointment”.

2) Rahane may lead Royals: Ajinkya Rahane is likely to lead the IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals in case Steve Smith, under fire after admitting to ball tampering during the ongoing third Test against South Africa in Cape Town, loses his captaincy. India’s Test vice-captain Rahane is also saleable as a brand — a must for all IPL franchises. Rahane was one of the Royals’ premier performers before they were banned for two years in the wake of the 2013 spot-fixing scandal.
The scandal gave way to speculations that the Indian Premier League franchises Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad could sack Steve Smith and David Warner (also said to be involved in the conspiracy) as their respective captains.

Also Read : ‘Brain fade’ Steve Smith: Prolific but flawed Aussie cricket captain