Blames 4 Hindu Activists, Not SIMI For Attack
Mateen Hafeez TNN
Mumbai: The country’s premier anti-terror agency is set to file a chargesheet against four ultra-right Hindu activists for carrying out the 2006 Malegaon twin blasts.
The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) probe has knocked the bottom off the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad’s (ATS) case that members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) had carried out the attack. The chargesheet is expected to be filed any time this week.
On September 8, 2006, bombs exploded in Bada Qabristan in Malegaon, when people gather to observe Shab-e-Baraat. At least 37 people died and 297 others were injured.
The NIA, which started the probe in April 2011 on the Union home ministry’s orders, has arrested four men—Dhan Singh, Lokesh Sharma, Manohar Singh and Rajendra Chaudhary. Sandeep Dange, Ramji Kalsangra and Raj Mehul are wanted in the case. The agency claims Chaudhary, Dhan, Manohar and Kalsangra had planted the bombs.
Asenior NIA official in Delhi refused to give more details saying the “case is sensitive”. Sharma, also an accused in the Samjhauta Express blast in 2007, and Chaudhary were members of the Bajrang Dal.
“There cannot be two sets of accused in one crime,” said an NIA officer, adding the agency was examining if there was a larger conspiracy involved. Another officer said the agency may ask the court to dismiss the charges against the nine arrested by the ATS. All were granted bail in November 2011.
On May 10, the NIA recorded the statement of Mohammed Atif, a prime witness in the case. The ATS had claimed that Atif had seen the attackers making the bombs and he hid in the godown of one of the accused. Atif later told a court in his hometown in Uttar Pradesh that he was forced to give the statement.
The NIA claims the decision to bomb the textile town was taken by senior members of the right-wing Hindu module, including former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, who was later murdered allegedly by Kalsangra and Dange.
Kalsangra and Sharma were tasked with the execution, and they asked Chaudhary, Dhan Singh and Manohar Singh to plant the bombs.
The agency claims the team first recced Malegaon. On the day of the blasts, Sharma drove the team to Malegaon, where Kalsangra gave them the RDX and clothes to disguise themselves as Muslims. Kalsangra accompanied Dhan, Manohar and Chaudhary to place the bombs on bicycles in Bada Qabristan near Hamidiya mosque. After the blasts, Sharma drove them back to Indore.
The ATS, led by then joint police commissioner K P Raghuvanshi and director inspector general of police Subodh Jaiswal, filed a chargesheet on December 21, 2006. It took them just 54 days to file it; usually it takes up to 180 days in such cases. The CBI, after its own probe, had endorsed the ATS findings.
The NIA, set up in 2009 after the 26/11 terror attacks, focused on Hindu right-wing groups after a confession by Swami Aseemanand, who was arrested in the 2007 Hyderabad Mecca Masjid blast case, it told the court last November. The agency has a Rs 10-lakh reward for Kalsangra and Dange.
2006 MALEGAON BLASTS
ATS CLAIMS IN 2006
The blasts were carried out by Muslim youths in an attempt to spark off communal riots The RDX came from Pakistan and its national, Muzammil, assembled them in Malegaon The bombs were planted by accused Noor-ul-Huda, Raees Ali and Abrar Ahmed
Zahid Majeed, an imam from Yavatmal, planted a bomb and returned the same day.
But around 250 Yavatmal residents filed affidavits saying he was in the town at the time Shabbir Masiullah, a battery shop owner, was part of the conspiracy. But at the time of the blasts, he was in custody of the Mumbai crime branch in another case
THE INCIDENT On September 8, 2006, bombs explode in Bada Qabristan in Malegaon when people gather to observe Shab-e-Baraat, killing 37 and injuring 297 others
THE LEGAL ANGLE
Criminal lawyer Majeed Memon, who has represented several 1993 serial blasts accused, says two ideologically diagonally opposite groups can’t be responsible for a particular terror attack. “The NIA has to discharge the earlier set of boys, who were wrongly believed to be involved.”
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
Another Samjhauta blast accused, Lokesh Sharma, provided logistical support
The blasts were plotted by former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi, Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange, and others. Kalsangra and Sharma were tasked with the execution
Chaudhary, Dhan and Manohar recced Malegaon to identify the targets
The Times of India, May 13, 2013