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Eight accused Muslim youth in 2006 Malegaon blasts case discharged

Hyderabad,SATISH NANDGAONKAR:Two years after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the court that it did not have any evidence to link them to the blasts case, a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Monday discharged nine Malegaon locals from the Malegaon 2006 blasts case.

A scene after a blast at Bada Kabristan in Malegaon. File photo: Vivek Bendre

Nine Malegaon residents — Noorul Huda Samsudoha, Shabbir Ahmed Masiullah, Raees Ahmed Rajab Ali Mansuri, Salman Farsi Abdul Latif Aimi, Farogh Iqbal Ahmed Magdumi, Mohammad Ali Alam Sheikh, Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid, Mohammad Zahid Abdul Majid Ansari and Abrar Ahmed Gulam Ahmed — were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad in 2006 for their role in the blasts.

Shabbir Ahmed – one of the 9 accused in the case died in an accident few months ago.

The serial blasts which occurred near Hamidia mosque near Bada Kabrastan after Friday prayers on Shab-e-Baraat day in September 2006, killed 37 and injured over 100 people in communally sensitive Malegaon power loom town in Nasik district in north Maharashtra. The bombs were planted on bicycles, ATS investigation revealed.

The ATS, which first probed the case, had arrested the nine on the basis of alleged links with the banned SIMI. The case was later handed over the CBI, which endorsed the ATS findings.

In 2011, the case was handed over to the NIA.

Swami Assemanand, an accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts case being investigated by the NIA, confessed to the role of Hindu right wing organisations in the Malegaon 2006 case. Following the confession, the NIA told the court that it had no evidence against the nine Malegaon residents, paving the way for their release.

Meanwhile, another serial explosion rocked Malegaon in 2008 in which the Maharashtra ATS headed by Hemant Karkare had for the first time arrested Hindu right-wingers including serving army officer Col Prasad Purohit, and Sadhvi Pragya Singh.

Reacting to the development, AIMIM MLA Imtiaz Jaleel has demanded that action should be taken against the officers of Maharashtra ATS for arresting the nine accused, and destroying their lives. The Maharashtra ATS was then headed by K.P. Raghuvanshi, who also investigated the July 11, 2006 Mumbai serial bombings case, and has since retired.

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  1. Malegaon Blast: After 5 Years In Jail, Charges Dropped Against 8 Muslim Men

    Hyderabad(NDTV): A Mumbai court today dropped charges against eight Muslim men who were accused of carrying out bomb blasts that killed 31 people in Maharashtra’s Malegaon in 2006.

    The men had spent five years in jail before being granted bail in 2011, after the National Investigation Agency took over the case. They have alleged that they were tortured into making confessions by the police.

    “For 80 days I was subjected to third-degree torture and then was forced to sign a false confession,” Noor Ul Huda, one of the men discharged today told NDTV. Now 34 years old, Mr Huda, said it was a huge relief to be exonerated by court, describing bleak years spent in prison as a “terrible ordeal.”

    The Malegaon blasts were first investigated by Maharashtra’s anti-terror squad or ATS, which had arrested nine Muslim men alleging that they belonged to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and had carried out the explosions with the help of the Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar e Taiba. One of them died later.

    The case was later handed over to the CBI, which confirmed the ATS findings. But when the National Investigation Agency or NIA took over the case in 2011, it booked another set of people associated with a right-wing group called Abhinav Bharat.

    The NIA also said it did not oppose bail for the Muslim men accused in the case as no evidence had been found to link them to the blasts.

    Members of Abhinav Bharat have also been accused in the 2008 blasts in Malegaon in which seven people died.

    The turn in the NIA’s investigation came after Swami Aseemanand, the main accused in the Samjhauta train blast case, allegedly told the agency that the same group was involved in both Malegaon attacks, two years apart. Aseemanand later retracted his confession.

    During arguments recently however, the NIA had opposed the discharge petitions of the men discharged today.