Five years after Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid was rocked by a high intensity blast, the Ministry of Home Affairs has given the National Investigation Agency (NIA) the approval to prosecute two of the accused — Sandeep Dange and Ram Chandra Kalsangra — who are absconding

“Massive evidences have been collected against these right wing extremists. NIA has been asked to prosecute them,” Home Minister P. Chidambaram told journalists here. The NIA has placed bounties of Rs.10 lakh cash each on Sandeep Dange, alias Parmanand, and Ram Chandra Kalsangra, alias Ramji, both residents of Indore.

Mr. Chidambaram said after initial flip-flops by state agencies in some cases where right-wing extremists are involved, the NIA has put all these cases back on track.

Investigations have found that Sandeep Dange and Ram Chandra Kalsangra had planted two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Mecca Masjid on May 18, 2007, which claimed nine lives, while five more died when police opened fire to quell angry mobs. The investigators have identified six persons— Naba Kumar Sarkar, alias Swami Aseemanand, Suneel Joshi, Devendra Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Ram Chandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange, as members of the core team that planted the IEDs with a mobile phone trigger mechanism. While one IED went off, the other did not.

Referring to the demand for removal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Chidambaram said his ministry wants three amendments to the Act, which are under the consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

“Position of several people is that the Act must be repealed…the position of the government of Jammu and Kashmir is that pending the amendment of the Act in respect of some areas a notification declaring those areas as disturbed areas should be withdrawn. So these are well known positions. So we have to see how to go forward,” he added.

On the issue of separate statehood for Telangana, Mr. Chidambaram said the Centre was keen on taking a final decision soon. Without giving any timeframe, he said: “I have assured all concerned parties that our government is keen to take an early decision as early as possible.”

While parties like the BJP and TRS have already made their stand clear to the government on the issue, four other political parties — Congress, TDP, MIM and YSR Congress — are yet to announce their stand on the issue.