Mateen Hafeez TNN
Mumbai: The Union government has told the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) to hand over investigations into the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“We received instructions from the Union government to hand over the case to the NIA. We are waiting for NIA officials to take custody of all the papers and the case. They will be handed over to them soon,” ATS chief Rakesh Maria confirmed.
Six people were killed and 101 were injured in the September 29, 2008, Malegaon bomb blast. Twelve members of the rightwing outfits, Jai Vande Mataram and Abhinav Bharat, were arrested. All the accused, including a serving Indian Army lieutenant colonel, Prasad Shrikant Purohit, face action under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA).
Earlier, the government had indicated its willingness to hand over all cases, where saffron groups were allegedly involved, to the NIA. The Samjhauta Express bomb blast, in which 68 persons were killed, is being investigated by the NIA. Spiritual leader, Swami Aseemanand, is an accused in the Samjhauta case.
The Hyderabad Mecca Masjid bomb blast, in which 11 people were killed, and the Ajmer dargah bomb blast, in which three persons were killed, may also be handed over to the NIA.
The Maharashtra ATS had arrested 11 persons for their alleged roles in the Malegaon blasts in October and November 2008. Pravin Mutalik, a member of the Abhinav Bharat, was arrested on January 31, 2011. “The accused wanted to cause a lot of casualties but could not succeed in their conspiracy,” an ATS officer said. Aseemanand, arrested in October 2010, had confessed that the conspiracies of the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast, the Ajmer dargah blast, the Mecca Masjid bomb blast and the Samjhauta train blast, were hatched by the saffron groups. “All cases are interconnected and the accused are mostly common,” said an officer who is part of the Malegaon bomb blasts case.
Earlier, the case of the Malegaon serial bomb blasts, in which 38 people were killed and 297 were injured on September 8, 2006, was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The ATS, which initially probed the case, had arrested 13 youths allegedly belonging to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The case was transferred to the CBI after residents of Malegaon agitated against the arrests.
The Times of India, April 6, 2011