Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Malegaon Ka Ghajini completes 50 days

Malegaon: The newly released movie, Malegaon Ka Ghajini, has completed 50 days of screening successfully. Like Ghajini hero(Aamir Khan), the lead character in this movie too has memory problem. The movie, starer by mimicry artist Shakeel Bharti, has been shot in Malegaon and suburbs with a budge of Rs 50,000. Shot over a period of one year, it highlights the social problems like sky rocketing prices of vegetables, milk, sugar, increasing property tax, water tax, etc. It also brings the menace of dowry to audience' notice.

This movie is schedule to be screened in a cinema hall in Bhiwandi from first week of January 2011.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Malegaon gets first multiplex cinema halls

Cinemax India Ltd launched three screens multiplex Cinemax Sandesh Multiplex in Malegaon. The newly rennovated Sandesh cinema was inaugurated by senior NCP leader and minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, on December 4, 2010. Block buster movies Golmal 3, Guzaarish and Khalein Hum Jee Jaan Sey were screened on its first day.

This is the first multiplex in the city of Malegaon. The multiplex is having capacity of 1,017 seats including 54 recliner seats. Sandesh Talkies is located in suburban Malegaon. The new ticket rates for the multiplex are Rs 40, Rs 60 and Rs 70.
A Photograph by Mukhtar Adeel

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Courts in Malegaon

The courts are located in the Camp area, the Western part of Malegaon. There are 10 courts in Malegaon city dealing with cases related to crime, civil issues, property disputes, family affairs etc. The newly constructed court was inaugurated on October 10, 2009 by the then Bombay High Court chief justice, Swatantra Kumar. Others present in the function were justice A M Khanvilkar and district court judge R B Malik. The main buildings consists of Sessions courts, senior division courts, judicial magistrate first class courts and the bar council.

Sessions Courts:
There are three Sessions court in Malegaon. While one is known as the Main sessions court dealing in criminal matters, other two are ad hoc courts (a & b). To get bail in any criminal case, the applicant has to approach the Main session’s court. These courts have three special Public Prosecutors (PP).

Senior Division Court:
There are two senior division courts. The first court deals into land disputes, property matters. The property disputes upto Rs one lakh are referred to this court. The other senior division court deals with marital disputes under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC):
There are five JMFC courts (look after by five judges) in Malegaon. These courts deals in criminals cases (police station wise), civil issues, family disputes, civil cum criminal cases etc. The cases of fraud with amounts only below Rs one lakh are tried here. There are seven Public Prosecutors (PPs) in the JMFC courts. These PPs also work in the senior division courts.

Malegaon Bar Association:
The bar associations of lawyers has around 400 members. While 75% members are Hindus, 25% other members are Muslim lawyers. R K Bachhao, a senior defense counsel, is the president of bar association.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hospitals in Malegaon

There are over two dozen hospitals in Malegaon, specialising in treating fracture cases, accidents, burn, child delivery, heart surgery, eye, nose and dental hospitals etc. The list is long. Some of the well-known hospitals in the city include the following ones.

01) N.N. Wadia Hospital: This is a government run dispensary but known as Hospital in the city. (02554- 232524)

02) Faran Hospital: This is an all-in-one hospital. Cases ranging from minor suturing to severe accidents are dealt with care. The owner of the hospital, Dr Saeed Farani, was earlier awarded Mother Tereassa Award and Mahatama Gandhi Peace Award for his contribution to the society. (02554-230172)

03) Noor Hospital: Located in the heart of the city, Noor Hospital is one of the oldest hospitals in Malegaon. Its owned by Dr Saeed Faizi. (02554-233864)

04) Al-Aziz Hospital: (02554-230003)

05) Al-Ameen Hospital: Dr Abdul Malik, a Paediatrician (02554-238686)

06) M H Children's Hospital: Dr Hamid Iqbal, DCH, a Paediatrician (02554-222324)

07) Medi Care Hospital: Located in Camp area of Malegaon, its a multi-speciality hospital. (02554-254249)

08) Siddhivinayak Surgical: Dr Mukun Thanwar, DNB surgery (02554-235639)

09) Mauli Hospital: Dr B L Bangurde, DGO (02554-253698)

10) Astha Accidental Hospital: Located in Camp area, its takes cases of accidents. Dr Charudatta Patil D. Ortho (02554-699530)

11) Bora Children's Hospital: Dr S B Bora, DNB DCH, (02554-237407)

12) Al-Nisa Hospital: Its a maternity hospital run by Dr Ashfaque Shaikh.(02554-232444)

13) Life Care Critical Care: Dr Rahul Deshmukh, MD (02554-325773)

14) Shah Hospital: Dr Sanjay Shah, MD (02554-251151)

15) Guru Krupa Hospital: Dr M Paripattedar, MD
(02554-238228) and (02554-221332)

16) Dwarka Mani Hospital: Multi-speciality Hospital (02554-322311)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Malegaon Fort Temple

The Prakash Taleem Sangh's Mahadev Temple is located within the premises of the Malegaon Fort on the bank of Girna river. The fort was constructed around 300 years ago. This old temple was renovated and given a new look recently.
A pic by Aasif Ansari

Monday, September 20, 2010

A city that makes a difference

Coordinates 20°33′N 74°33′E / 20.55°N 74.55°E / 20.55; 74.55
Country India
State Maharashtra
District(s) Nashik District
MLA Mufti Mohammed Ismail
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Malegaon is spread over 12.95 square km area and located on the Mumbai-Agra (national highway number 03);around 300km North-East from Mumbai. This taluka is considered to have been in existence right from 915 AD. Its 1,404 ft above to the sea level and is one of the five most cold areas in Maharashtra when temperature comes down upto 6 degree Celsius.

It was once a small junction known as Maliwadi (hamlet of gardens) and quickly gained the reputation for being a source of employment. When Raja Naro Shankar Raje Bahadur started building a fort in the area in 1740, a project that took 25 years, a sizeable number of Muslim workers and artisans from places like Surat and northern India settled in the area. After the British capture of the Malegaon fort in 1818, Muslims from Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, Burhanpur etc migrated to this locality. There have been influx of migrants after the 1857 revolt and labourers came in huge number to Malegaon. As for communal riots, which became a regular feature of the country after the partition, Malegaon was severely affected during all the riots.

With more than 300 mosques (including some under construction mosques), the city has the largest Muslim population in Maharashtra pocket. The oldest mosque, Shahi Masjid, was constructed in 1798 AD in central Malegaon. The city has the credit to have been running the country's largest institution for women in Islamic studies, Jamiatus Swalehaat. Girls and women from Canada, south Africa, USA, London, Belgium, France, Italy and several other countries are currently studying there. Malegaon's 40-acre cemetery is said to be the largest in the country.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Malegaon road named after Hemant Karkare

Malegaon MLA Mufti Ismail after the nauguration in Malegaon on September 16, 2010

Mateen Hafeez

The road in Malegaon, where an RDX bomb allegedly planted by the members of Abhinav Bharat outfit killed six persons on September 29, 2008, was named after slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare on Thursday.

The inauguration of the `Shaheed Hemant Karkare Road' (between Bhikku chowk to Shashtri Chowk) was done by Malegaon MLA Mufti Mohammed Ismail. He is also the chief priest of Malegaon's Jama Masjid. ``When Muslims were being caught in terror cases, no body said terrorism has no religion. However, after Karkare exposd the saffron terrorism, people are now saying terrorism has no religion,'' said Ismail in his speech. The programme was attended by Malegaon corporation's commissioner, Jeevan Sonawane and ex-mayor, Rasheed Seth Yeolewale.

Karkare, who probed the 2008 Malegaon blast and arrested 11 members of Abhinav Bharat outfit including a serving lieutenant colonel Prasad Purohit, was killed on the mid night of November 26, 2008 when 10 Pakistani terrorists went on a mayhem in Mumbai.

Earlier, the police had refused to give a no objection certificate saying if the law and order situation goes out of the control, the road naming organisers will be held responsible. The proposal to name the road after Karkare was sanctioned by the 72-member corporation, including BJP and Sena corporators, in December 2008.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Policing in Malegaon

Malegaon has always been wrongly termed as a ``sensitive town'' by the media and intelligence department itself. However, the city which has a population of more than eight lakh people has just six police stations with a total staff of around 1,500 police personnel. Cases registered with the police stations range from cheating, theft, house breaking to murder. Maximum number of cases are reported under the ``theft'' column of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Malegaon Control room number - (02554) 222003

Police stations in Malegaon:

1) Azad Nagar police station - (02554) 222006

2) Qila police station

3) Aayesha Nagar police station

4) City police station

5) Chhawni police station

The city is supervised by two Assisstant Superintendent of Police (ASP), an additional Superintendent of Police (Addl. SP) and a Superintendent of Police (SP). Currently, Sanjay Mohite, is the SP of Nasik (rural). Malegaon taluka comes under the Nasik (rural) sp'S jurisdiction.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dreaming big

By Rinky Kumar
Shaikh Nassir has pioneered the trend of directing popular remakes like Malegaon Ke Sholay and Malegaon Ka Superman with limited resources

Text: Set in the narrow bylanes of Malegaon, popularly known as the power-loom town of Maharashtra, Shaikh Nassir's video parlour was a one-stop entertainment shop for film lovers ten years ago. Stocked with black and white classics, Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters, Nassir's parlour offered a wide range of options to the locals for over two decades to entertain themselves at the end of long hard day.

Though his shop did brisk business, Nassir always nurtured a desire to provide a different kind of entertainment to the locals. The movie-buff, who had acted in several school dramas and watched Chitrahaar, the weekly show on popular Bollywood songs on Doordarshan religiously during his childhood, says, “I loved watching movies of Jackie Chan, Charlie Chaplin and James Bond and always felt that I should make films to entertain everyone.” He gradually learnt video shooting and started his career by capturing local weddings on a video camera.

Bur rather than making an original film, Nassir decided to make remakes of popular movies. “I would have loved to make a brand new film, but it would have been too expensive. So I thought of directing remakes and make the best use of the limited resources available.”

In 2000, Nassir decided to make his first film as a remake of the evergreen blockbuster Sholay, one of his personal favourites. “Two of my friends resembled Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra and I didn't have to try too hard to scout for the locations,” he says. So he took a loan of Rs 50,00 from his brother, roped in his friends and used daily equipments to make the film. “We had limited resources and a tight budget so we had to use the available equipments. After much brain storming, I decided that we could use a bullock cart as a crane and a trolley as a cycle and used a video camera to shoot the film in Malegaon. I also roped in my friends Akram Khan and Hameed Subani to write the film's script.”

The duo tried to stay as close to the original script as possible and only incorporated few changes to make the film set in the local milieu and make it funny. So Gabbar Singh became Rubber Singh and Basanti was called Basmati. While in the original, Gabbar Singh's men raid the villager's homes and rob them of their money and jewellery, in the remake, Rubber Singh's men board a local bus and rob the natives of daily amenities.

Shot within a span of two months, Nassir eventually made VHS tapes of the film and then sold them in his parlour. The film was a resounding success among the locals and the debutant director managed to make a profit of Rs two lakhs.

Inspired by this success, Nassir decided to make more such films. His second venture was called Malegaon ki Shaan, a remake of director Ramesh Sippy's superhit Shaan and was shot with a Panasonic digital TV camera. “Malegaon Ki Shaan was a parody of the original. We had better resources for this movie so in terms of picture quality and cinematography, it was much better than my first film,” says Nassir. Once again, they used local amenities to add a certain finesse to the movie. In the original, Shakaal (played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda) has a revolving chair. In the remake, the villain had a similar chair which was placed on a bullock cart's wheel that was manually spinned by the crew during the shoot. Like its predecessor, Malegaon ki Shaan, too proved to be a success amongst the locals.

But Nassir shot in the limelight after filmmaker Faiza Ahmed Khan and her team shot a documentary, The Making of Malegaon Ka Superman, on his forthcoming movie Malegaon ka Superman. Shot in 2009, the film is a spoof on DC comic's famous superhero and will be released in the power loom town this year during Eid. It's based on a shy boy who suddenly gets superhero powers. Shot within a month on a budget of Rs one lakh, it stars Akram Khan, who is a far cry from the conventional Superman. He's a thin, short man who dons Superman's light blue outfit with M for a new emblem (denoting Malegaon) and wears boxer shorts with long draw strings (nada) deliberately left hanging. Khan dances in the fields, saves his love interest from goons and can't fly too high as he's malnourished. “We made Akram slide on a log of wood that juts out of a cart and asked the crew members to wave out his red cape from behind. The cart moves forward taking Akram along and creates an impression that he's flying,” explains Nassir.

The documentary was screened at the Osian Film festival last year and generated a lot of interest about Nassir's film. “Malegaon ka Superman has travelled to several film festivals including Doha International Film Festival and has also been screened at the 40th International Film Festival (IFFI) at Goa,” says the director excitedly.

Nassir's success story has prompted other movie-buffs to try their hand at directing similar films. He has given creative inputs for other movies like Malegoan Ke Karan Arjun, Malegaon Ki Lagaan and Malegaon Ka Don, which have also been loved by the natives of the power-loom town.

Thanks to his works, Nassir is now directing SAB TV's latest silent comedy Malegaon Ka Chintu. Inspired by popular British comedy series Mr Bean, the show is about a simple native of Malegaon and the hilarious incidents in his life. As of now, Nassir is focussing all his energies on his debut television serial. Quiz him, if he's keen on making any more films and Nassir says, “Right now, I'm concentrating only on Malegaon Ka Chintu and films have taken a a backseat. I just hope the show is liked by everyone.”

Screen, July 4, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Nasir Khan,the film-maker who launched Malegaons spoof industry,now brings out a desi Mr Bean

Sharmila Ganesan-Ram | TNN

If Superman were a Malegaon resident,he would wear chappals,administer polio drops to infants and save crows from the onslaught of kites before going on to defeat his sworn enemya gutkha baron.Mr Bean,on the other hand,would ride a bullock cart,park it deliberately at a petrol pump and direct the attendant towards the Lunar bike mounted at the rear of his manual vehicle.Welcome to Malegaons sense of humour or,in other words,Shaikh Nasirs imagination.

Nasir,the 35-year-old father of Malegaons notoriously wacky spoof industry,has introduced many classic Hollywood and Bollywood characters to the satellite town of Malegaon by giving them its quintessential dialogue,looks,circumstances and well,food.After having conquered local imagination with such cult spoofs as Malegaon Ke Sholay,Malegaon Ka James Bond and Malegaon Ka Superman,the impoverished filmmaker is now ready to invade national television with his version of Mr Bean titled Malegaon Ka Chintu.A mute comedy based loosely on Mr Bean,the film will go on air next month.It will be full of one-minute gags,and the protagonist will be played by another Malegaonbased film director, reveals Nasir,whose stint as a video parlour owner was instrumental in sowing the seeds of filmmaking in this frail shopkeepers head.

At this video parlour,where the young Nasir used to treat residents of the entertainment-starved satellite town to Charlie Chaplin,Jackie Chan and Rambo movies as also Bollywood flicks,he would observe consumer behaviour.These observations served as editing cues.I noticed that people would leave when a song was playing or when the dialogue was too long and boring, he says.Comedy,he discovered,had a timeless appeal.People wont watch the horror movies of the 60s as they find them tacky.But they still like to watch Charlie Chaplin, says Nasir,adding that humour makes a film evergreen.His other parttime professionthat of a wedding videographerwas also providential;it led him to discover many faces which seemed to bear a resemble to actors.This equipped him with the idea of remaking the legendary 1970s hit Sholay for his people,who had no other hangouts like gardens or beaches,only cinema halls.

I hadnt even thought of returns then;I just wanted to do it for myself, remembers Nasir,who made the film at the unbelievably modest budget of Rs 50,000 within two months.Locals were hired (chiefly Nasirs friends who worked for free),bullock carts used in place of cranes and bicycles served as both camera trolleys and Gabbar Singhs horses.

The script,jokes,dialogues and even incorrigible lyrics like Yeh dosti doke ka taan hai,len den kuch nahin,mushkil mein jaan hai were all Nasirs.Once released,the film fetched the budding director Rs 2 lakh and a cult following.The money helped him upgrade to a helicopter in his next venture,Malegaon Ki Shaan and later,when he discovered chroma,he found the courage to import Superman.

Many people from Japan and Singapore,who were intrigued by my ways,came down and watched the making of this film, says Nasir,about the Rs 1-lakh film whose making was punctuated by such incidents as the camera falling into the river and Superman being able to fly in the film only when he was rolled along on a plank of wood placed atop a bicycle.The documentary,called Supermen Of Malegaon,which records the making of this film,has clinched awards at film festivals in Los Angeles, Prague,Pakistan and Italy.When the feature film Malegaon Ka Superman was shown at a festival in Goa,international buyers jostled to snap up the rights.In Delhi,a roomful of 2,000 school students demanded that the show be repeated at least four times,says Nasir,who recalls British film-maker Paul Martin being astonished by his low-budget film-making exercise.

At the Osian film festival six months ago,Rishi Kapoor came up to me and congratulated me.Even Anurag Kashyap said he was a fan, recalls Nasir,who is not easily floored by flattery.It only makes me want to compete with myself, says the man whos made 11 films so far and confesses that the journey has been very enjoyable.
Of course,there have been challenges.Sometimes,the so-called actors could not say their lines and demanded numerous retakes.As most of them were daily wage labourersbook binders,printers and loom workersthey would often miss shoots to attend the call of duty which actually pays.And punctuality remained a dream.If you call them at 7 am,they turn up at 11 am, says Nasir.But the reactions of the audiences in the theatrewho would come chiefly to spot relatives on the big screenmade,and makes,it all worth it.

People often seek him out for autographs at film festivals,but at home,Nasir says,he enjoys no such limelight.There,he is still an impoverished video parlour-owning son.Ghar ki murgi daal barabar, laughs this incorrigible superman of Malegaon.

The Times of India, July 25, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

‘Is sporting a beard in the city a crime?’

Civil Engineer Mohammed Saleem

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

A 42-year-old Muslim civil engineer was on Monday bundled off to a police station, detained and grilled about his identity for over four hours and then let off with an advice not to sport “such a long beard’’. He was picked up for his “suspicious movement’’ in front of the Israeli consulate.

Mohammad Saleem not only had to spend more than four hours at the police station and take two havaldars to his residence by taxi—to get his identity proof documents—and treat them to soft drinks and tea, but also answer “extremely humiliating’’ questions.

Saleem, working for a private construction firm, had gone to the Earnest House I-T office to submit some files on his employer’s behalf. He finished his work and came out of the building and was looking up some numbers on his new cellphone when his troubles started. Saleem did not know that the neighbouring building housed the Israeli consulate. “I was checking my new phone when a person came up to me and asked me who I was. He was joined by others who took me back to the I-T office to check if what I had said was true,’’ he added.

It was only later that he realised that the persons who had got hold of him were from the Israeli consulate. “An Israeli, too, was there and security staff took my cellphone to check if I had clicked any photographs,’’ Saleem said.

But, despite nothing amiss being found, the security staff called up the Marine Drive cops, who took Saleem to the police station. It was here that Saleem learnt that sporting “such a long beard’’ in the vicinity of the Israeli consulate was something that could land an Indian citizen in trouble.

“I repeatedly requested the policemen to allow me to make a call, but they did not pay any heed to my request. They recorded my statement, took my residential address, my office address and then allowed me to make one call to my employer who spoke to the cops on my behalf,’’ Saleem added. “What was more offensive was that an official from the Israeli consulate and a security guard abused me in front of the police officers,’’ he said.

Israeli consulate-general Orna Sagiv was in Bangalore and said she did not know of the case. “The cops will possibly be able to give you more details,’’ she added.

Two cops then took Saleem to his residence in a cab to check if he really stayed in Mumbai and it was only after they returned to the police station and gave him a clean chit that he was allowed to leave.

Additional police commissioner R K Padmanabhan said, “If required, I will ask for an inquiry into it.’’

The Times of India, June 30, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Maulvis excommunicate 5 Muslims in Malegaon, Punished For Being ‘Apostates, Infidels’

Mohammed Wajihuddin | TNN

Mumbai: A group of Malegaon’s maulvis last Friday summarily excommunicated five Muslims for allegedly being “apostates and infidels’’.

The clerics declared Fareedul Abedin, Sharief Cookerwalla, Yunus Trolleywalla, Iqbal Engineer and Yusuf Dalal were no longer Muslims after hearing many fellow Muslims who testified that the “accused’’, among other things, believed in and preached ideas and beliefs which went against Islam. One of the charges against the five is that they refuted Prophet Mohammed’s miraculous divine ride, also called Meraj, where he was taken to the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and given a guided tour of the heavens all in one night.

Critics of the move have said it reeks of “Talibanism’’ and the regressive approach of the Khaps of some parts of India but the maulvis have defended their position. “Their activities had created huge embarrassment for us. We invited all five to present their side of the story but only one of them, Fareedul Abedin, turned up. We pronounced them kharij-az-Islam (out of Islam) as reliable witnesses testified against them,’’ said Mufti Ismail, local MLA and head of the Jamiautul Ulema in Malegaon. Ismail added that a social boycott against the men had not been called for and the populace had been advised not to harass them.

Despite Ismail’s claims, however, a boycott is already in place as the excommunicated men are too afraid to visit the local mosque. And they are feeling the heat. “People taunt us as murtad (infidel). We fear for our lives,’’ said Cookerwalla (64), accused of brainwashing gullible Muslims in Malegaon. Denied the charges, he said, “I am a Muslim and believe in the finality of prophethood on Mohammed. Who has given them the right to excommunicate me?’’ He and the other four, fearing a physical attack, have filed a police complaint.

Cookerwalla, who runs a cookerrepairing shop in Malegaon, also gives discourses on the Geeta and the Quran. “I am as comfortable talking about Hindu scriptures in temples as I am quoting the Quran in mosques,’’ he said. “This angered some Muslims and they started a vilification campaign against me and my companions.’’

During the Friday meeting, Fareedul Abedin fielded a volley of questions from the maulvis and tried to explain his position but to no avail. Hafiz Mahfooz Rahmani, a cleric who was part of the excommunication panel, said, “The most dangerous thing that Abedin said was that like Haj and zakaat, Muslims could perform namaz just once a year unlike the divine command which said performing namaz five times a day was mandatory.’’

Interestingly, Abedin — a cleric himself — used to hold lectures on the Quran. A fortnight ago, he held one such lecture at Fateh Maidan in Malegaon which angered many Muslims who thought that, in the name of giving Quranic lessons, Abedin was propagating Bahaism and the faith of the Ahmadiyas. Liberal scholars and Urdu commentators are shocked at the excommunication. “India is not a theocratic state. People have religious freedom and this excommunication order by the so-called Sharia Panchayat violates that freedom,” said Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer. “Islam doesn’t recognise priesthood and the option of choosing God should have been left to the individuals’ conscience.”

Urdu columnist-writer Sajid Rashid felt the excommunication would harm the image of Indian Muslims who — by far — practised a moderate, tolerant Islam. “Indian Islam is not Talibani Islam. Moreover, there is a law of the land. If the clerics of Malegaon felt that these five Muslims were threat to peace, they could have approached the court instead of passing a medieval diktat,” said Rashid.

The Times of India, June 2, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Malegaon boy cracks UPSC

Niteen Yeola, the first candidate from the Wani (trader) community from Malegaon passed the Civil Service Exams 2010, secruing the 106th position in his second attempt. Son of a school teacher, Niteen is an additional commissioner of income tax (probationary) and posted in Nagpur.

Niteen, who topped the UPSC in Maharashtra, did his engineering in electronics and telecommunication from the College of Engineering, Pune in 2005 batch. Niteen said he was keen to join the Indian Foreign Service (IFS).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

ATS knew of Purohit’s role in Hyd blast

Lt. Col Prasad Purohit is the first army officer to be arrested in a bomb blast case

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Investigations into the 2007 blast in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid are now pointing to the involvement of r i g h t - w i n g Hindu outfits. However, Mah a r a s h t r a anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had in November 2008 discovered the link between Lt Col. Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast, and the explosion in Hyderabad. The ATS officials were instructed to not make it public as the suspects belonging to the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) were already in jail for the Hyderabad blast, said senior police officials. The investigating agencies then believed that the same group was behind the Ajmer blast as well.

Purohit, during his interrogation, had told the ATS sleuths that he had provided the RDX used in the Mecca Masjid blast. A member of right-wing Hindu outfit Abhinav Bharat, Purohit is believed to have played a key role in the Ajmer blast as well. The Rajasthan ATS recently arrested two persons in connection with the 2007 Ajmer shrine blast that killed three and injured 30.

The Rajasthan ATS is probing the links between the arrested suspects—Devendra Gupta and Chandra Shekhar—and Abhinav Bharat members held in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast. Gupta is said to be a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The 350-year-old Mecca mosque was built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. A blast triggered through a mobile phone killed 12 persons on May 18, 2007. “The Maharashtra ATS had told the Hyderabad police about Purohit’s suspected involvement in the blast, but the Hyderabad police did not show interest in seeking Purohit’s custody,’’ said an officer who was part of Maharashtra ATS team that probed the Malegaon blast case. “We had also recovered RDX from Purohit’s Pune home. It was then that Purohit admitted to keeping RDX at his place,’’ the officer added.

It has now emerged that slain RSS member Sunil Joshi, who is also said to be Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s boyfriend, had introduced Gupta to Thakur. The sadhvi, currently in a Nashik jail, had floated Jai Vande Matram Kalyani Samiti in 2007.

Soon after the Mecca Masjid blast, the Hyderabad police had arrested four Muslim boys, including an MBA. All the four were acquitted by a Hyderabad court. The Maharashtra ATS had submitted a CD in the court which allegedly showed Purohit saying that his group had executed two more operations in the country. Sleuths believe that Purohit was referring to the blasts in Ajmer and Hyderabad.

The Times of India, May 6, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

MALEGAON BLAST CASE - Maha ATS team to grill Ajmer blast suspects

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

A Maharashtra ATS team has left for Rajasthan to interrogate the three right-wing suspects caught for their alleged role in the 2007 Ajmer shrine blast. The ATS is probing the links between the arrested trio—Devendra Gupta, Chandra Shekhar and Vishnu Prasad—and Abhinav Bharat members held in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast. Gupta is said to be a RSS member.

According to the Rajasthan ATS, the trio used a mobile phone to trigger a bomb at the 800-year-old shrine in Ajmer on October 11, 2007. Initially, the Ajmer police had claimed that Bangladesh’s banned outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) was behind the blast.

Maharashtra textile and minority affairs minister Arif Naseem Khan said, “I have spoken to the ATS chief Rakesh

Maria and he is sending his teams to question the suspects in Ajmer. The suspects could have links with Abhinav Bharat members, 11 of whom are lodged in our jails.’’ Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit are among those arrested for their alleged roles in the Malegaon blast.

The Maharashtra ATS had submitted a video CD in which Lt Col Prasad Purohit can allegedly be seen saying that his group had executed two more operations in the country. Sleuths believe that Purohit was referring to the blasts in Ajmer shrine and Hyderabad’s Mecca mosque. “The Hyderabad police had announced the name of HuJI man as a suspect in the Mecca mosque blast. It was for this reason that other security agencies kept quiet on Purohit’s role in the Hyderabad blast,’’ said a source in the ATS.

The Times of India, May 3, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Malegaon’s beacons of change

CHEERS OF HOPE: The women at work

Malathy Iyer | TNN

Fatima is a tenth-pass divorcee who speaks in soft tones, recites shayari and covers herself from head to toe in a black flowing burkha. One would hardly view her as a messenger of change. But the 22-year-old along with 12 others — is changing the way mothers-to-be and newborns are treated in 36 slums in this communally sensitive town near Nashik.

As a part of Bill & Melinda Gates-sponsored project called Swasthya-Sure Start, she is part of a band of Muslim girls who knock on every door in 36 villages to conduct a menstrual surveillance, an innovative adaptation of the time-tested public health tool of door-to-door surveillance of infectious diseases. “When we find out a woman has missed her period and could be pregnant, we start educating both her and her mother-in-law on the care they need to take during each trimester,” says Fatima’s colleague Ayesha. In the next nine months, the girl-counsellors guide the mother-to-be about pills, clinic visits and the need to register in advance at a public hospital. The results are heartening. Registrations of pregnancies before 12 weeks rose from 38% in 2008 in these 36 villages to 61% in 2009. “While 48% women delivered in hospitals in 2008, the figure was 57.2% for 2009,” says Dr Kranti Ramayane of PATH, the international NGO implementing Swasthya-Sure Start along with the Malegaon Municipal Corporation. Dr H Shaikh, acting health officer of MMC, endorses this: “The project has given us the manpower to detect high-risk pregnancies.”

But this microscopic change in Golden Nagar, an area comprising a largely poor migrant population, has not been easy. The girls were initially shooed away. Says Kismet, a community health worker, “When we first started about three years back, elders in houses would shoo us away saying it was not becoming of young girls to talk about such stuff.” But persistent visits and results —healthier babies — paid off. “Now mothers-to-be go to civic hospitals demanding tetanus shots as well as checks on their blood pressure,” says project coordinator Arun G. It has found another unlikely role as a family planning advisor. Says Ayesha, “When we go for home visits, the women always ask for condoms as they want to space their children.

Incidentally, when the Centre launched the National Rural Health Mission three years back, there was criticism that the urban poor had been left out. “When PATH approached the Maharashtra government for the project, we were pleasantly surprised when told the government would prefer if we looked at the urban poor instead of the rural poor,” says Benazir Patil, state head of PATH. “The Malegaon project is the most special as the town has a tremendous gender bias,” Patil adds. The aim of the project is to provide a prototype for the National Urban Health Mission, which will be launched in 2012.

Says Dr Anant Phadke of NGO Cehat-Pune, “While the Janini Swasthya Yojana only give incentives to mothers (Rs 600 to women who deliver in hospitals), such community-centric schemes manage to change their mindset.” There is concern about what will happen when the project winds up in 18 months. Slum communities have already elected ‘leaders’ and ‘supporters’ to take the message ahead and are also toying with the idea of setting up a motherand-child fund.

The Times of India, April 7, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

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Malegaon Fort

The Malegaon Fort, situated on the bank of Mausam river, was constructed during the reign of Maratha king Narav Shankar in 1765 AD. The British army attacked on the fort in 1818 AD. However, they British army found it difficult to conquer the fort for a few weeks since it was guarded by highly trained 310 Arab warriors. The rest 40 guards were Indian Muslims. On June 14, 1818 AD the British army conquered the 77 ft tall fort. One the West the fort has the river, while the it has trench on its East, North and South.

Mughals ruled Malegaon upto 1636 AD, Nizam Shahi upto 1724 AD and the Marathas had taken over the fort by 1760 AD. The fort has a shrine on its top and a temple on the ground.

One of the country's heritage structures, the fort is in a dilapidated state. While a slum has come up within the fort premises, a state government sanctioned school is being run here too.

Education at a glance

This is the Malegaon High school and junior college building, located in the sprawling compound of the 50-year-old school. The school has over 7,000 students (pre primary to high school section). A photograph by Asif Ansari

In 1880, Britishers started the first school in Malegaon known as Anglo Vernacular school. Three years later, a Christian missionary school was also started. In the year 1900, a municipal solitary school was started by the government. In 1903, the civic body started the first Urdu and Marathi school for girls. In 1907, the first Urdu private school, Anjuman Hidayat-e-Islam, started. In 1927, Anglo Urdu High school, first Urdu high school, was started. In 1930, an organisation, Anjuman Moinuttulaba, was founded to prevent and control the school drop-outs.

Malegaon Municipal Corporation run schools:
There are 58 Urdu primary schools with a strength of 25,881 students while the Marathi primary schools have 3,824 students.

Private schools:
Urdu Medium:
Urdu primary schools run by private institution cross the figure of 36 with 35,000 students. In 30 private high schools, 24,000 students are studying. The number of junior colleges being run by Urdu institution is around five with 2,500.
(Around 89,000 students are studying in pre-primary to junior college level Urdu medium institution)

Marathi Medium:
There are 13 private Marathi primary schools with 10,000 students while in 15 Marathi high schools 18,000 students are studying. A total of seven junior colleges are being run by Marathi and English medium institutions with 2,321 students.
(Around 33,606 students are studying in pre-primary to junior college level Marathi medium institution)

English Medium:
There are total seven primary schools that teach around 3,000 students. In two English medium high schools around 1,031 students are studying.
(Around 4,124 students are studying in pre-primary to junior college level English medium institution)

Well-known Urdu High schools and colleges:
* A T T High school and Junior college: Founded in 1954
* The Malegaon High school and Junior college was started in 1956
* J A T Girls' High school was first started in 1962
* Jamhoor High school and Junior college was founded in 1963
* Tehzeeb High School and Junior college was founded in 1969
* Shaikh Usman High school and Junior college was started in 1978
* Jaamiat-ul-Huda was started in 1979
* Swess High school was started in 1989

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Malegaon voters’ list will soon be in Urdu too


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Malegaon’s 2.38 lakh voters will soon have their names in the voters’ list in Urdu. With this, Malegaon will become the first city in Maharashtra to have the voters’ list in Urdu. This step has been taken to avoid mistakes in names and addresses.

Officials said this was the brainchild of Ajay More, sub-divisional magistrate, who has been conducting meetings with the citizens and political parties. Malegaon, which has a 6 lakhplus population at present, is divided into east and west by a river, Mausam. The eastern side of the town has 100% Urdu-speaking population. Officials said that several mistakes in the voters’ list were brought to the notice of the election commission officials.

It is learnt that educated unemployed youths would be hired to conduct a survey and correct the names, besides compiling them in Urdu. According to an estimate, 1,080 youths will be assigned the job for survey in the 72 municipal corporation constituencies in Malegaon.

The Times of India, March 20,2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

United We Stand

This photograph shows the city's Jama Masjid and next to that stands a Hanuman Temple on the Western bank of the Mausam river in Malegaon. The local bazaar is adjacent to the mosque and temple where the vegetable vendors are mostly Hindus while the buyers are the people from Muslim community. The mosque has a capacity of around 4,000 devotees while the temple has a capacity of around 200 devotees at a time. A picture by Asif Ansari

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Malegaon press

This developing town has seen many fluctuations in the past. The locals have also tried their hand in journalism and today there are Urdu and Marathi newspapers in good number.

Beedari was Malegaon's first Urdu newspaper. It was started by Maulanad Abdul Hameed Numani in 1935 and did well in its earlier editions but was shut down after a few years. The paper focused more on ethics, religion, social issues etc and had soon become the mouth-piece of the masses.

Daily Urdu Newsapapers: There are half a dozen Urdu newspapers that cover almost all the aspects of life. Shamnama is the most popular tabloid followed by Discipline, both eveninger. Other daily tabloids are Tarjuman-e-Urdu and Roznama. These city centric newspapers carry stories on current topics, politics, education, crime, sports, health, transporation etc. The papers are priced between 50 paise and Rs two.

Daily Marathi Newsapapers: There are five daily Marathi newspapers including Dinkar, Baale Killa, Mokshini Varta, Sair Samachar and Mausam Girna. The papers are priced between Re 1 and Rs three.

Weekly Urdu Newspapers: Over 50 weekly newspaers are registered but hardly a few of them make it to the stands. Awami Awaz, owned by former MLA and minister Nihal Ahmed, is one of the most popular weekly newspapers. Bebak has completed its 50 years. Al-Bayan is a religous newspaper which is being printed for the last 25 years regularly. Another socio-religous paper is Anwar. Haashmi Awaz, another weekly consists of political and social stories. It is being printed in the city for the last 20 years. The papers are sold betweeen Rs two and Rs five.

English Newspaper: City's first English newspaper, The Robo Age, was started by Abdul Lateef Ansari, a retired vice principal of a junior college. The newspaper has completed its 10 years of publication last November. It contains stories on current issues and its analysis, short stories, profile of well known personalities, general knowledge, puzzles, coverage on science and technology etc. The paper was launched to motivate students for competitive examination and also carries general review of such exams. The paper costs Rs two.

Children's Weekly paper: Khair Andesh is the oldest children's newspaper. It contains fictiional stroies and the reali life stories of world legends and the news makers. Bazm-e-Atfal is another paper for for children.

Powerloom - the ultimate business

(Picture by Asif Ansari)

Malegaon's textile industry:

Malegaon might be known for its thriving film industry, Mollywood, that often pay homage to Hindi films, albeit in its own unique form.

But today the quintessential powerloom has put this small town on the global map. Over one lakh powerlooms form the backbone of this town’s thriving textile industry.

Electricity was provided to Malegaon in 1936 and the first powerloom was purchased and installed by Abdur Razzaque Seth the same year. Prior to this, the city only had handlooms.

In 1936, a total of 10 powerloom machines were installed in Malegaon. By the late 80s, the handloom industry in the city had almost become dormant. In 1935, Razzaque Seth had installed a loom which was being provided energy through a diesel engine.

In 1883, the British government had conducted a survey of handlooms in Malegaon. As per the survey report, there were 2,441 handlooms being operated by 1,600 Muslims weavers. The handloom industry flourished betweeen 1910 and 1935.

Around five lakh people are dependent on this industry. The remuneration to the labourers is given on Friday, a weekly salary system. The labourers are called, Karigar, while the supervisor is called a mukadam while women and children look after the small unit of raw material making machine known as tarashan. A labourer earns an average remuneration between Rs 700 and Rs 1,000 a week. The owners of these powerloom units are referred as Seth.

The powerloom units manufacture clothes like polyester, Kemeric, lungis, sarees etc. The Malegaon lungis are famous across the country and the sarees are mostly exported to Rajasthan, Gujarat and interior parts of Maharashtra.

The cloth material prepared in these powerloom units/factories is exported to Surat, Rajasthan, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Madhya Pradesh and foreign countries too. There are several committees for the protection of powerloom owners like Malegaon powerloom Action Committee, Powerloom Sangharsh Samiti, Powerloom uddyog Bachao Samiti and Powerloom owners Association (registered).

Today, there are over one-lakh powerlooms in the town which prepare more than 1.10 crore metre clothes a day. The Malegaon Municipal Corporation earns around Rs 40 crores per annum through this industry in the form of octroi and other taxes.

2008 bomb blast

Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit was a serving army officer when arrested for his alleged connection with the Malegaon blast. He is accused of supplying RDX for the blast.

A powerful bomb, fitted on a motor bike, went off in Bhikku chowk area on September 29,2008. The bomb killed six persons and injured 101 persons. This was the second blast in two years. The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested 11 persons belonging to Abhinav Bharat outfit. The trial is on in a Nashik court.

Purohit organised a terror training camp near Pachmarhi in MP for semi-literate Hindus. The recruits were taught how to make firearms, assemble and operate them for ‘self-defence’ in the 15-day session. However, the intention was not self-defence but to disrupt communal harmony.

Moreover, the confessional statements and witnesses’ testimonies in the Malegaon blast case have revealed that rightwing group Abhinav Bharat’s meetings discussed the possibility of an attack on Urs celebrations in Panipat.

Malegaon blast: Sept 29, 2008
Bomb’s make: RDX, ammonium nitrate, oil fuel, shrapnel
Spot: Bhikku Chowk, Malegaon
Time: 9.35 pm
Occasion: Two days before Ramzan Eid
Killed: Six, including an 11-yr-old
Injured: 101 persons
Investigating agency: The antiterrorism squad
Total arrested: 11
Still absconding: Ramji Kalangsara, Sandeep Dange and Pravin Mutalik
Who are they?
Members of Hindu hardliners’ outfits, Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram Jan
Kalyan Samiti, Hindu Rashtra Sena, among others
Confessional statements: 2
MCOCA slapped on the case: Nov 20, 2008
Pages in the chargesheet: 4,528 (filed on Jan 20, 2009)
MCOCA dropped by a special court: July 31, 2009

Behind Bars:
* Pragya Singh Thakur (38):
A former member of Durga Vahini, BJP's women's wing. A masters degree holder in History, Thakur took Sanyas and became a Sadhvi in January 2007. Thakur's bike was used to plant bomb in Malegaon. She is accused of engineering the blast.
She was arrested on October 23.

* Shamlal Sahu (42):
He is suspected to be one of the bomb planter. A commerce graduate from Christian College in Indore, Sahu has a mobile phone shop and also acted as a realty broker. According to Madhya Pradesh PWD minister, Kailash Vijayvargia, Sahu is a BJP member. Sahu is also accused of conspiring the bomb blast.
He was arrested on October 23.

* Shivnarayan Kalangasara Singh (36):
A B Sc graduate from New Sciene college in Indore, Singh works as an electrician and is also an LIC agent. He has been termed as ``mechanical and electrical'' expert by the ATS. He is suspected to have assembled the timer device while making the bomb.
He was arrested on October 23.

* Sameer Kulkarni (32):
A former member of Akhil Bharatya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) who moved from Maharashtra to Bhopal a few years ago. He was emploeyed in a printing press and would distribute pamphletes and literature ``to educate Hindu youths'' about religion. He is supected to have brough the chemicals used in the bomb.
He was arrested on October 28.

* Retired major Ramesh Upadhyay (64):
A resident of Akurdi in Pune, he worked in Military's intelliegence unit. Upadhyay is suspected to have provided training to the planters for assembling bombs and procuring the bomb material. He also headed BJP's ex servicemen's cell in Mumbai but was removed by the higher authorities.
He was arrested on October 28.

* Ajay Rahirkar (39):
He was the treasurer of Abhinav Bharat and part of the fund raisers' group. He is a Pune resident and had paid Rs 2.5 lakh to Swami Dayanand Pandey prior to the blast.
He was arrested on November 2.

* Rakesh Dhawde (35):
Dhawde has been booked in four bomb blasts cases too. They were Qadriya mosque blast in Jalna, Mohammediya mosque blast in Parbhani, another mosque blast at Porna and a bomb blast at a Bajrang Dal member, Laxman Rajkondwar's house on April 6, 2006. A Pune resident, Dhawde also arranged terror training for the Bajrang Dal members and collected weapons for training. He was a weapon consultant for Aamir Khan starrer movie, Mangal Pandey- The Rising.
He was arrested on November 2.

* Jagdish Mhatre (40):
A habitual criminal and accused in murder and extortion cases in Kalyan and Thane, Mhatre resided at Dombivili at the time of his arrest. He had paid money to Dhawde to buy weapons.
He was arrested on November 2.

* Lt. Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit (37):
He is accused of procuring the RDX used in the blast. Arranged and attended meetings, collectd funds and is a prime conspirator. He was posted at the Army Education Corpse Training Centre and College in Panchmadi, Madhya Pradesh where he was doing a course in Arabic at the time of his arrest.
He was arrested on November 5.

* Swami Dayanand Pandey alias Shankar Acharya alias Sukhakar Dwuvedi (40):
He had asked Purohit to arrange for explosves for the Malegaon blast. He conducted meetings with the other accused. He ran two ashrams, one Kanpur and another in Jammu and Kashmir, prior to his arrest.
He was arrested on November 14.

* Sudhakar Chaturvedi (37): Originally a resident of Mirzapur in UP, Chaturvedi was picked up from Deolali where he stayed in a rented room. He is accused of conspiracy.
He was arrested on November 18.

Case was first registered at the Azad Nagar police station in Malegaon on September 29, 2008. Later, it was transferred to the ATS police station (CR No. 18/08) in Mumbai.

The accused have been booked under the Indian Penal Code for crimes such as murder under Section 302, attempt to murder under Section 307 and conspiracy under Section 120-B. They have been slapped with provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for trying to ‘overawe the government’ and ‘threatening the unity and integrity of the nation’, under the Explosives Act for use of RDX to engineer the blast, and the MCOCA for being members of an organised crime syndicate.

* Sections of the Indian Penal Code: 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 327 (voluntarily causing hurt to extort property, or to constrain to an illegal to an act) and 153 (d).

* Sections 15, 18 and 23 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA)
* Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Explosive Substance Act
* Sections 3, 7and 25 of the Arms Act
* Sections 3 (1) (i) and 3 (2) (3) (4) of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA)

The bike used in the blast is said to have been once owned by Sadhvi Pragya
* Recorded conversation between Lt Col Prasad Purohit and retired Major Ramesh Upadhyaya
* Traces of RDX found in Sudhakar Chaturvedi’s house SMS messages sent from Purohit’s phone to Upadhyaya Two important confession statements made in the presence of a magistrate
* 431 witnesses, of which five are army officers
* 12 written witness statements
* A laptop seized from Dayanand Pandey containing valuable proof

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2006 Cycle blasts

Four bombs went off in Malegaon on September 8, 2006 killing 38 people and injuring 297 others. All the bombs were planted on cycles and exploded between 1.45 pm and 1.55 pm. The first three bombs went off at Bada Qabrastan (cemetry) killing 30 people and the fourth bomb went off at Mushawerat chowk in central Malegaon. The bombs contained RDX, ammonium nitrate, nitrite and oil fuel. The police claimed the suspected wanted to creat communal tension between Hindus and Muslims. The police also said that the RDX, used in the bombs, was transported from Pakistan to Malegaon. The suspected were booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). The accused moved to the supreme court against the application of MCOCA in their case.

Sept 9, 2006: The Malegaon police released the sketches of two suspects based on the description of eye witnesses.

Sept 12, 2006: A hoax bomb was found on the staircase of Mohammedia mosque in Central Malegaon which contained mud and traces of RDX. A case was registered with the Azad Nagar police station.

Sept 15, 2006: The case was handed over the state anti terrorism squad (ATS).

Oct 8, 2006: Nooru-ul-Huda, an alleged member of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was picked up and shown arrested the next day.

Oct 12, 2006: The police took Huda to Bangalore for lie-detector and narco analysis tests.

Oct 22, 2006: Huda booked for Mohammedia mosque hoax bomb case.

Oct 222, 2006: Over 650 suspects were questioned in a span of one and half months.

Oct 24, 2006: The police arrested Raees Rajjab Ali in the hoax bomb case. Huda used to work with Ali at a factory which would manufacture battery and inverter.

Oct 30, 2006: Huda's police custody was over and the ATS booked him in the serial blast case.


Oct 30, 2006: Noor-ul-Huda (24), a labourer was booked in the Malegaon bomb blast case. He was said to be a planter at Bada Qabrastan.

Nov 1, 2006: Shabbir Masiullah (34) also booked in this case as conspirator.

Nov 5, 2006: Raees Ahmed Rajjab Ali (35) was booked in the case. Said to be a conspirator and palnter along with Huda. Is brother in-law of Shabbir Masiullah.

Nov 6, 2006: Unani doctor Salman Farsi from Govandi arrested on charges of conspircy.

Nov 6, 2006: Unani doctor Farogh Makhdomi from Malegaon was arrested on charges of conspircy.

Nov 13, 2006: Mohammed Ali, a Govandi resident, is accused of supplying RDX to Malegaon accused. He was earlier arrested in the 7/11 train bombing case.

Nov 13, 2006: Asif Bashir Khan alias Junai, a civil engineer from Jalgaon, was booked in Malegaon case. He is accused of supplying RDX to Malegaon accused. He was earlier arrested in the 7/11 train bombing case.

NOv 21, 2006: Mohammed Zahid Abdul Majeed, a former SIMI activist was picked up from Yevatmal and arrested for his alleged role in the blast. Shown as a planter.

Dec 16, 2006: Abrar Ahmed Saeed (35), was arrested. Said to be planter at Mushawerat Chowk along with Zahid.

Dec 21, 2006: The ATS filed a 4,500-page charge sheet against the suspects and the case was handed over to the CBI same day.

A City I remember

ABHISHEK SHARAN, Special Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Hours after the bombs went off on September 8, 2006, in Malegaon, I had set off to the city.

It is a city that raises images of rickety power-loom units and communal riots, to outsiders. Having spent three days there on the reporting assignment, I found that there was much more to the city than the bland, ill-informed popular perceptions about it.

Along the way, as our Qualis had made its way through bumpy roads that day, I pored through pages of information on Malegaon---on its demography, topography and its tryst with violence and fundamentalism. I had got plenty of data, often conflicting and confusing, about incidents there, including a rally to ‘support Osama Bin Laden and Afghanistan’.

But I did not get a word about the people who called it their home. The people, as I realised, held key to Malegaon---its present and future.

I had met a ‘Hindu’ auto-rickshaw driver who refused to take me to the ‘Muslim’ section of the city. He said, something bad could happen ‘that side’ especially on ‘Fridays’. The auto-driver in the ‘Muslim’ section had the same sort of suspicion of the ‘other side’.

The ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ sections stand vertically separated, literally, by a river.

The ‘Hindu’ fort, with Saffron flags atop it, lies in the Muslim section and is looked after well by the locals.

At the blast-spots, in the Muslim section, I could see poor victims (Muslims) who were mourning for their departed ones. These were families whose 24 hours were spent struggling to lead a respectable living where the life’s basic needs were available. They had no idea who the blasts’ perpetrators were or why they had targeted them.

I met groups of residents---students, clerics, police officers, victims’ families and the anonymous men loitering on the streets. While a cloud of mistrust hung over the city, one of its traits was unmistakable---the locals offered friendship and help to any stranger, such as me.

Poverty, lack of access to modern education and basic urban amenities, and the fear of the known and unknown defined the city as well.

Days, and months after, the friends I made in that city would keep calling me periodically. I was Abhishek ‘bhai’ to them; I would call them ‘bhai’ too.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Malegaon Riots - Unlearnt Lessons from the Past

Author: Asghar Ali Engineer
Publication: Economic & Political Weekly
Date: December 1, 2001
URL: http://www.epw.org.in/showArticles.php?root=2001&leaf=12&filename=3762&filetype=html

The communal riots in Malegaon were the most serious in Maharashtra after the post-Babri masjid killings in the state in 1992-93. The riots have underscored once again the role of politicians in fanning communal tensions and the failure of the police and the administration to contain the violence in time and prevent it from spreading.

Malegaon was shaken by a sudden spurt of communal violence on October 26 after the Friday prayers in the afternoon. Communal violence has often a connection, direct or indirect with the announcement of elections. Within a couple of months elections to the civic bodies are expected in Malegaon and other towns and parties and contestants are worried about their vote banks. But it is the people who have to pay the price for being governed through elected representatives.

The riots in Malegaon were quite serious and the biggest after the Mumbai riots of 1992-93. Not that riots had not taken place after the Mumbai riots of 1992-93, and during the Shiv Sena-BJP rule as one commentator had suggested. Several riots had taken place in Penn, Junnar and other places during the SS-BJP rule. But it must be stated that the Malegaon riots overshadowed these in the post-Babri riots in Maharashtra.

Malegaon, a taluka, is a Muslim majority town in Nashik district. It has roughly a population of 8,00,000 of which nearly 60 per cent is Muslim. Most of these Muslims had migrated from UP and Bihar after the 1857 revolt due to persecution by the British, and are quite poor and illiterate. Hardly any government in Maharashtra has done anything to improve their economic conditions. Governments have used them for votes. A survey shows that the incidence of TB is also quite high among the Muslims of Malegaon. Malegaon is also an important centre of powerlooms like Bhivandi near Mumbai.

Besides elections, it is the incidents of September 11 in New York and Washington, that were also responsible for what happened in Malegaon. Muslims in Malegaon, like some Muslims in other places in India and elsewhere, are quite angry with the US for its continuous bombing of Afghanistan.

Some Muslims have expressed their resentment against US and Britain by giving a call for boycotting American and British goods particularly Coca Cola and Pepsi, the popular soft drinks. Some Muslim scribes from Deoband and other places in UP also issued a call appealing to Indians in general and Muslims in particular to boycott these soft drinks. Many Muslim hoteliers had even stopped selling these drinks. Some young boys in Malegaon were distributing the pamphlets appealing to the Indians to boycott these goods after the Friday prayers.

However, these pamphlets had nothing communal or offensive or even anything in support of terrorist attacks on September 11 in New York. It contained only an appeal to boycott American and British goods. The district authorities not wanting to take chances had made police �bandobast� outside all sensitive areas, for Malegaon is considered as one of the most communally sensitive areas in Maharashtra.

One of the SRP constables snatched a pamphlet from a boy who was distributing it and reprimanded him. However, according to another version he even slapped and arrested him. It is said that the boy refused to hand over the pamphlets to the constable. This led to protests from the people coming out of the mosque and resulted in skirmishes with the police. It is also said that the pamphlets in question were being distributed in Malegaon even a week before that Friday. It was also said that the Imam of the Jami� masjid Mufti Muhammad Ismail and advocate Shuaib intervened and asked the people to disperse peacefully. It is obvious that much trouble could have been avoided if the police had merely requested for the pamphlets and not used force. It is also being pointed out that first the police demanded the pamphlets and after it was refused force was used. Actually it should not be the job of the police on duty to demand the pamphlets. It could have been collected politely by a plainclothesman from intelligence department. Instead an SRP constable seized the pamphlets and so much violence resulted.

Protests and Counter-reactions

As there was anger already simmering against the police and the US attack, S P Suresh Ahire reached there with reinforcements and the local Congress MLA Sheikh Rashid also reached the spot. People were demanding an apology from the police for snatching the pamphlets and arresting the boy. As the crowd was getting restless the police resorted to lathicharge with great intensity. Many people were injured and they began to run. The crowd ran towards Muhammad Ali and Qidwai road and there were scuffles with the police. Stone pelting began and many people including three policemen were allegedly injured.

It is then that the police used force and begin firing in the direction of Muhammad Ali road. The police fired nine rounds in which seven persons were injured. Three persons died, of which one was a 18 year-old boy who was hit in the head; another 23-year old man was hit above his navel and a 45-year old woman Biqis Bano who was drying clothes on the terrace was hit in the chest and died in Faran hospital. All three were hit above the waist.

Before we proceed further some comments about the role of the police are in order. The police, particularly those in the lower ranks, often fire in excess against weaker sections of the society particularly the minorities, tribals and dalits. There is the instance of the sub inspector Kadam firing on dalits in Ghatkopar a few years ago in which more than 10 dalits were killed. The Gundewar Commission then had observed that the firing was in excess. We also have the Srikrishna Commission report, which probed the role of the police so painstakingly, and concluded that the police was guilty of deliberately killing Muslims in many instances, during the Mumbai riots of 1992-93.

If the government does not pay attention to intensive training and sensitising the police towards human life this will recur in riot after riot. No such attention is being paid to this despite so many instances of the police brutalities. IPS officers of high integrity are few and far in between. For example in Malegaon too, an additional director of police was sent to control the situation. As a man of great integrity, he had controlled riots in Bhivandi during 1992-93 but this time it was too late. By the time, he went to Malegaon damage was already done.

The crowd became even more restless after the firing The firing took place at about 4.05 pm on Muhammad Ali road. From there, the crowd spread to the other side of the river Mausam and began indulging in looting and burning shops and other properties belonging to the majority community; sections of majority community retaliated by burning shops and properties of Muslims. There is a Shiv Sena organisation in Malegaon called Janta Raja which is controlled by the Anand Dighe faction of Thane, who incited the Hindus to attack Muslims and their properties. The Samna also wrote, as usual, provocative articles and even said that if Muslims are in majority in Malegaon, Hindus are in majority in villages and we will teach them a lesson.

On October 26, 2001, cases of arson occured between 4 pm and 7 pm in Dana Bazar, Gur Bazar, Kirana Bazar, Shashtri Chowk, Nihalnagar, Muhammad Ali road, etc. The communal elements of the majority community openly began provoking people in a number of areas around Malegaon like Samakser, camp and Suigaon and rumours began to spread in all directions, as is usual in riots. In Samakser, Muslim properties were destroyed, looted and burnt. Communal elements and anti-social elements from both communities were openly looting and burning properties. There were two cases of stabbing but all others (about 13 persons according to official figures and 15 according to other sources) were killed in police firing. Among those who died about 12 persons were Muslims and two Hindus, one remained unidentified.

The looting and burning continued for a few days and the situation came under control only after November 3, curfew had to be imposed for long hours from the very first day and day curfew has been relaxed since November 7. The night curfew, however, still continues.

It is highly regrettable that such a major riot took place in which 15 persons were killed, more than 12 injured in police firing and 477 persons were arrested. We have heard many painful stories of people being killed. One Khalil member, a person who was working for peace was called from his house on the pretext of controlling the mob and was killed. Water pipes were broken by the miscreants and Malegaon went without water for a few days. A rumour was also set afloat that milk has been poisoned and many had to go without milk.

In villages and nearby areas it is mainly Muslims who suffered. In places like Rawalgaon (the famous chocolate town), Deola and Kalwan it is Muslims who mainly suffered. In Malegaon alone property worth more than 15 crore was destroyed and in other places property worth more than two crore was lost. Some estimates put the losses much higher.

Election Rivalries

It has been pointed out by some that the riots were caused mainly by election rivalry between the present Congress MLA and Nihal Ahmed of Janata Dal (Secular). There is no doubt both are political rivals and Sheikh Rashid, the Congress MLA even alleged that Nihal Ahmed had provoked the Muslims and thus the riots ensued. However, Nihal Ahmed denies the charge. It is true that Nihal Ahmed had taken out a procession against the bombing on Afghanistan on October 19 in which many Muslims joined and some youth even carried placards with Osama bin Laden�s pictures. Nihal, however, maintains, he did not control the youth who carried the placards. It had not he who invited them to join his protest march and carry the placards.

Whatever the fact is that elections to the municipal council is due in Malegaon, and politicians are tempted to cater to the sentiments of their voters. Both Sheikh Rashid and Nihal Ahmed had an eye on the coming elections and wanted to be on the right side of their voters� sentiments. It is however, for all of us to reflect that elections are at what cost? Should we play with the sentiments of our people as our politicians have been doing so far? Can elections be fought only on communal issues?

The BJP is also hotting up on the Ayodhya issue once again since elections in UP are due. It is exploiting the issue of terrorist attacks and by now enacting POTO is strongly justifying it to cater to the Hindu sentiments on terrorism. The Congress-NCP government has also failed miserably in controlling the riots in Malegaon, despite the town being given to the army control. This itself is a serious thing that the army had to be called out on the third day of rioting.

The charge that when the Congress is in power, more riots take place (already small riots up to more than 40 in number have taken place in Maharashtra since the Congress-NCP government came to power) and when BJP or Shiv Sena is in power, riots cut little ice. Whenever the Congress is in power it is obvious that the BJP or Shiv Sena is out to cause communal trouble to alienate Muslim voters from the Congress, on one hand, and to consolidate their Hindu vote bank on the other.

Thus the Congress has to be doubly cautious while in power to maintain communal harmony. But it is often seen that it miserably fails to maintain communal harmony as has happened in the case of Malegaon. To prevent riots, police machinery on one hand, and administrative machinery on the other, must be spruced up. But the Congress government hardly plays any role and neglects this vital function to maintain harmony. The Congress once again has proved that it is incapable of pulling up the police force. If it has to revive itself and won over Muslims in UP it must play very proactive role in controlling communal situation in the state where it rules. But there are no such signs as yet and as usual it is succumbing to communal pressures.

Though the Congress committee led by Motilal Vohra has given a clean chit to chief minister Deshmukh, in handling riots, it can hardly convince the victims of riots in Malegaon. It also must be pointed out that despite such a vicious communal atmosphere Hindus and Muslims saved each other�s lives. Muslims protected four Hindu families in Pawar Gali and Hindus protected Muslims in other areas. This gives us hope in an otherwise politically hopeless situation in the country.

The government initially had ordered only a magisterial inquiry but later on due to pressure from Sonia Gandhi a judicial inquiry has been instituted. So much for the government�s seriousness about the Malegaon riots. Chhagan Bhujbal, the home minister, had also turned down any offer of compensation for those killed and injured, saying it would amount to rewarding the mischief makers. Bhujbal should have known that very few miscreants are killed. It is mostly the by- standers who pay with their lives. It is only now that the government has agreed to give compensation though the amount remains to be fixed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2006 Malegaon blast

Four bombs killed 31 people and injured 297 others on September 8, 2006. This was the first terror strike in the textile town.

2006 blast

Policemen from across the state were deployed for bandobast in Malegaon after four bombs exploded in the textile town on September 8, 2006. The bombs killed 31 and injured 297 others. Photograph by PTI

2006 blast

A TV image of the September 8, 2006 Malegaon bomb blast. At least 31 were killed and 297 others were injured. Banned outfit, SIMI, has been held responsible for the blast.

2008 blast accused

Malegaon bomb blast's prime suspect, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, being escorted to the court for hearing in Mumbai. She is one of the 11 accused to be nabbed for the blast which had killed six on September 29, 2008

2008 blast accused

Two prime accused allegedly involved in the September 29, 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case. Sadhhvi Pragya Singh Thakur (left) and Shankaracharya Swami Dayanand Pandey alias Sudhakar Duvedi. Six persons were killed in the blast that contained RDX, ammonium nitrate, shrapnel, nut and bolt. Eleven accused, all members of the Abhinav Bharat outfit, are still in the jails.

2009 Parliament election rally

The Shiv Sena-BJP for the first time hoisted green flags alongside saffron ones to show their interest and need for Muslim votes during the 2009 Parliament election campaign. The rally was organised at Eidgaah ground in Malegaon's camp area.

Malegaon Corporation

The front view of Malegaon Municipal Corporation. It is located near the Malegaon Fort. Photograph by Mubasshir Mushtaque

Malegaon film

A scene from the movie, Superman of Malegaon, a local film. Photo www.asianwindow.com

Malegaon film

A scene druing the shooting of film`Superman of Malegaon'. PHOTO: www.daylife.com

Malegaon film

Director Shaikh Nashir Prine on the sets of `Superman of Malegaon' with the actor. This movie has brought Malegaon's lcoal film industry on the national map. Photo: The Times

Hindu-Muslim Iftar party

An Iftar party for Muslims in Malegaon. The party was organised by Hindus as a part of Hindu-Muslim unity in the city. Photograph by Mubasshir Mushtaque

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cycle- Prime mode of transport

Cycle is the main mode of transport in Malegaon town. Small boys can be seen on the streets on cycle frequently. Sadly, cycles were used to plant four bombs in Malegaon on September 8, 2008 which killed 31 and left 301 injured. A pic by Aasif Ansari

Powerloom - city's sole industry

Powerloom is the prime economy of this town. It is known for its strong powerloom industry but most of the scrap machines, rejected by other states, are used in this township. A powerloom machine costs between Rs 20,000 and Rs one lakh. A photograph by Aasif Ansari