Sunday, November 6, 2011

2006 Malegaon blasts: Bail for all 9 accused

MOMENT OF JOY: Activists and lawyers celebrate after the nine blasts accused get bail on Saturday

Mateen Hafeez & Rebecca Samervel TNN

Nine persons accused in the 2006 Malegaon serial blasts that left 31 dead got bail on Saturday. The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad had arrested them claiming that they belonged to the banned SIMI and aided a Pakistani in executing the attacks. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which took over the probe after Swami Aseemanand’s confession that a saffron group was behind the blasts, did not oppose bail.

NIA reviewed evidence after Swami confessed
Although nine people have been granted bail for the 2006 Malegaon blasts, two of the nine accused, Shaikh Mohammed Ali Alam Shaikh and Asif Khan, will remain in custody because they are also accused in the 11/7 Mumbai train blasts case.

Special judge Yatin Shinde of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each and asked the nine to furnish one or more surety. Defence lawyers requested that they be allowed to furnish cash surety in a bid to hasten their release in time for Eid on Monday. The judge declined this request.

The ATS had charged the nine with helping a Pakistani, Muzammil, in carrying out the blasts. They had said Muzammil had travelled
to Malegaon with RDX to assemble the bombs, three of which were planted on the premises of the Hameediya mosque and a fourth at Mushawerat chowk. The bombs went off late in the evening on September 8, 2006, when Muslims had gathered at cemeteries for Shab-e-Baarat prayers, killing 31 and injuring 297.

“In all fairness, in the interest of justice after due deliberation a decision was taken on the basis of the facts and circumstances not to oppose the bail application of all nine persons,” special public prosecutor Rohini Salian told the court on behalf of the NIA.

The NIA did not file a report in the court, saying investigations were not over yet. However, it submitted that after the revelations by rightwinger Swami Aseemanand, who was arrested in the Mecca Masjid blast case, it had reviewed the evidence collected by previous investigating agencies—the ATS and CBI—and also collected fresh documentary and oral evidence.

The 2006 blasts case was first investigated by the ATS followed by the CBI. Both accused the nine youngsters—Noor-ul-Huda (24), Shabbir Masiullah (34), Raees Ahmed Rajjab Ali (35), unani doctors Salman Farsi and Farog Makhdoomi, Mohammed Ali, Jalgaon mechanical engineer Asif Bashir Khan alias Junai, Mohammed Zahid Abdul Majeed, and Abrar Ahmed Saeed (35)—of the blasts. Following Aseemanand’s confession about his associates engineering the attacks, a second CBI team looked into the case and said the accused were not involved. Now, the NIA is pursuing this theory.

Since the saffron angle cropped up, residents of Malegaon have been meeting the Prime Minister, the Union home minister and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to emphasize that the youths had been framed. “It’s an Eid gift for all of us,” said Maulana Abdul Hameed Azhari of Malegaon after the bail order.

The township celebrated the news with crackers. “The ATS had wrongly booked these boys and we have been agitating for the past five years,” said S S Shaikh, a senior advocate.

The Times of India, November 6, 2011

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