Mateen Hafeez TNN
Mumbai:The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is soon likely to seek dismissal of charges against the nine men arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in connection with the 2006 Malegaon serial blasts, an officer said.
Handed the blast case in January 2011, the NIA has recently arrested four individuals—Dhan Singh, Lokesh Sharma, Manohar Singh and Rajendra Chaudhary—all alleged to be members of ultraright-wing Hindu groups. According to sources in the agency, Chaudhary, Dhan Singh, Manohar Singh and one Ramji Kalsangra planted the four explosives in Malegaon on September 8, 2006, that killed 37 people and injured another 297.
The recent discoveries of the NIA deflate the earlier claims of the ATS. “There cannot be two sets of accused for one crime,” said an NIA officer. “We have arrested four persons and are now probing a larger conspiracy.” Another NIA officer hinted that the agency is preparing to ask court to dismiss the charges (under section 169 of CrPC) made by the ATS against nine people.
In 2006, the ATS had arrested nine men of the minority community, claiming they were members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and had a hand in the Malegaon serial blasts. It filed a chargesheet in the case in 54 days, though it could take 180 days. According to it, SIMI members engineered and executed the bombings, with the help of a Pakistani national named Muzammil, to spark “communal riots” in the state.
As it happened, the Maharashtra government transferred the case to the CBI, but the central agency’s first supplementary chargesheet too made assertions similar to the state ATS’. In January 2011, when another CBI team began probing the blasts, it discovered the alleged involvement of radical Hindu nationalist groups. In April 2011, the Union home ministry eventually transferred the case to the NIA.
According to NIA sources, the decision to bomb Malegaon in 2006 was taken by senior functionaries in the group, including former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange. Thereafter, Kalsangra and Sharma were tasked with executing the bombings. It was these two who arranged for Chaudhary, Dhan Singh and Manohar Singh.
The team first recced Malegaon to identify targets. On September 8, Sharma drove the team members to Malegaon, where Kalsangra gave them explosives and clothes to make them resemble religious Muslims. Kalsangra accompanied Dhan Singh, Manohar Singh and Chaudhary to place the bombs on bicycles and at other spots near Hamidia mosque at Bada Kabristan, where many people had gathered on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat. Once the bombs were planted, Sharma drove the team back to Indore. CHANGE IN
COURSECARNAGE | On Sept 8, 2006, four explosives went off in Malegaon, killing 37 and injuring 297. The bombs contained RDX, ammonium nitrate, nitrite and oil fuel
Noor-ul-Huda (24) | Shabbir Masiullah (34) | Raees Rajjab Ali (35) | Dr Salman Farsi (40) | Dr Farogh Makhdoomi (40) | Mohd Ali Shaikh* (45) | Asif Bashir Khan* (40) | Zahid Majeed (35) | Abrar Ahmed Saeed (35)
* Facing trial in 11/7 train blasts case too
Malegaon police started an investigation, but a week later the case was transferred to the ATS
Nine Muslim youths, seven from Malegaon, were arrested and accused of being SIMI
Taking 54 days, ATS filed a 4,500-page chargesheet on Dec 21, 2006. Case was handed to the CBI
In Jan 2011, another CBI team sought permission to investigate
Case was transferred to the NIA in Jan 2011
MCOCA court granted bail to the nine accused men in Nov 2011
TURNING POINT An accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case, Swami Aseemanand, confessed in Dec 2010 that his accomplices executed the 2006 and 2008 Malegaon blasts. This upended the CBI probe until then and made it focus on ultra-right-wing Hindu groups. The Centre transferred the case to NIA
ATS CLAIMS IN 2006
The RDX for the bombs came from Pakistan and a Pakistani national, Muzammil, assembled them in Malegaon
A bomb each was planted by Huda, Raees Ali and Abrar
Majeed, an imam, travelled from Yavatmal, planted a bomb, and left for his hometown the same day. (About 250 Yavatmal residents filed affidavits, saying Majeed was in their town)
Masiullah, a battery shop owner, was part of the conspiracy. (At the time of the blasts, he was in police custody in another case)
NIA CLAIMS IN 2012
The RDX was procured in India. The explosives were allegedly planted by Dhan Singh, Rajender Chaudhary, Ramji Kalsangra and Manohar Singh. Dhan Singh was earlier arrested for being a bomb planter in the Samjhauta and Malegaon 2008 attacks
Another Samjhauta blast accused, Lokesh Sharma, provided logistical support
The blasts were ‘green-lighted’ by former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange and others. The execution was entrusted to Kalsangra and Sharma
Chaudhary, Dhan Singh and Manohar Singh recced Malegaon to identify the targets
The Times of India, January 7, 2013